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Brief Argument Paper: Legalizing Marijuana

Background: By the late 1930s, with the Marihuana Tax Act (not a typo), marijuana use was deemed illegal at the federal

level. This prohibition was strengthened with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, although the 1970s also

saw a push towards decriminalization at the state level. While marijuana use, in any form, is illegal under

federal law, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996, and more than half

of the states in the US followed suit by 2016. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to

legalize marijuana for recreational use, and have since been followed by Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada,

Maine, Vermont, Illinois, and Massachusetts (Lopez 2018).


Public opinion has largely moved in the same direction – toward legalization. When Gallup first began asking

about marijuana legalization in 1969, only 12% of Americans supported legalization. In its 2017 poll, Gallup

found that 64% of Americans supported legalization. This level of support does differ based on politics

(Democrats more in favor than Republicans) and age (younger people tend to support legalization more than

older people). Yet despite this push toward legalization, there has been limited research on the health effects

of recreational marijuana. More work has been done on medical marijuana and its effects, but this is still an

area of growing research (Reinhart 2018).


With these scientific data limits in mind, Texas passed its first marijuana legalization law in 2015. This law, the

Compassionate Use Act, allows for patients with intractable epilepsy, who have tried at least two other

antiepileptic drugs to obtain low-THC cannabis (.5% THC or less), if two doctors agree to prescribe it (Bort

2018). This law was expanded in 2019 to include patients suffering from seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis,

terminal cancer and several other conditions (Williamson and Johnson 2019). With that background in mind,

for this paper you will be arguing for or against marijuana legalization in Texas. Should Texas be legalizing

marijuana for medical or recreational use? You will be choosing a side – for or against marijuana legalization

– and arguing your position using research, facts and evidence that you have gathered to support your view.

Now, you may argue for or against medical marijuana legalization, or for or against recreational legalization.

The choice is up to you. The key is that you clearly explain which position you are taking (arguing for) and the

3+ well-developed and well-researched arguments you present.



• Minimum of five full pages in length: double spaced, with 1-inch margins and 12-point font. With works cited, the total comes to 6 pages.

• Thesis statement (at the end of your introduction) that clearly identifies your position, and the arguments you will be presenting.

• Explanatory paragraph that clearly explains the position you are taking – for/against medical marijuana legalization vs. for/against recreational marijuana legalization. This should include your views on how much should be legalized, how it can be obtained, who should be allowed to sell it, etc.

• You must have a minimum of three well-reasoned and well-explained justifications for your side. o In other words, three reasons why you support or oppose marijuana legalization

▪ By well-reasoned and well-explained justifications, I mean those that are supported by facts and evidence. This could be scientific data on the benefits or harm of marijuana



use, arguments from leading scholars and scientists, public opinion polls, etc. Any evidence that backs up and supports your opinion.

o Please be aware that there is no right or wrong side to this debate and you will in no way be judged or graded based on the position you choose. You will ONLY be graded on how well you support your arguments – what justifications and evidence you provide.

• Minimum of four scholarly sources aside from the textbook o Accepted sources include scholarly articles; these can be accessed on the Lonestar College

website: o If you do not have a barcode and pin to access online materials from the library, you can get

those needed items here, without having to go to campus:

o Other acceptable sources include newspaper articles from any major, respected publication: examples include, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, and any major city paper like the Houston Chronicle

o Unacceptable sources include Wikipedia, blogs, opinion pieces, editorials,, etc. o ***If you are not sure if a source is acceptable, email me and I will verify it for you***

• Must cite your sources and provide a works cited o You must have in-text citations in your essay. Any time you provide information that is not

common knowledge (whether in quotation marks or paraphrased in your own words) you must provide a citation for that information. If, for example, I say that the bumblebee bat is the smallest animal in the world, most people don’t know that, so I would need to provide a citation. The bumblebee bat is the smallest animal in the world (Langely 2015). In my works cited page, I would then fill in the rest of the information: Langely, Liz. 2015. “Small Wonder: What are the World’s Tiniest Animals?” National Geographic. The exact format of your in-text citation and works cited entry will depend on the citation style you are using.

o I do not care which citation style you use (MLA, Chicago, etc.). Just pick one and stick with it throughout the entire essay.

o If you do not provide in-text citations and a works cited, this is plagiarism and will result in a zero on the assignment.

• Must be written in essay format

• Due by 11:30pm on Wednesday, November 25th o Papers must be submitted to the Marijuana Legalization Paper Dropbox by that due date/time

If you have any questions at all about the paper, I will be happy to answer them. Please also take advantage of the writing tutors in the library. Their contact information is located on the syllabus and they are extremely helpful! Additionally, I will gladly look over one rough draft and send it back with comments and suggestions. In order to take advantage of this, you just need to email your rough draft to me at least one week before the due date – so by Wednesday, November 18. Sources Cited: – Bort, Ryan. 2018. “How to Navigate Texas’ Confusing Medical Marijuana Laws.” Thrillist 13 May. Accessed

22 August 2018. – Lopez, German. 2018. “The Spread of Marijuana Legalization, Explained.” Vox 20 August. Accessed 22

August 2018. – Reinhart, RJ. 2018. “In the News: Marijuana Legalization.” Gallup 4 January. Accessed 22 August 2018. – Williams, Dallas and Kim Johnson. 2019. “What’s Next For Medical Marijuana, CBD And ‘Compassionate

Use’ in Texas?” Texas Public Radio 11 June. Accessed 30 June 2019. medical-marijuana-cbd-and-compassionate-use-texas


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