Subculture: Marijuana in the United States
Professor Kenneth Newton
Monday May 23, 2010
The United States has an approved list of drugs that are considered legal and illegal that create adverse side effects and hold diverse political views. Marijuana is a substance that popular media holds in a negative undertone while other drugs such as valium and alcohol are supported, if not glorified. Popular media is a powerful tool that gathers a mass of people and provides all types of information. Some types of information are historical facts, statistics, entertainment, opinions, and biases which alter the state and views of those who access it. Marijuana has had an extremely controversial political view throughout history and is considered a “gateway drug,” enabling users to pursue stronger and dangerous substances. Although marijuana includes negative side effects, statistics prove it may be far less dangerous to people and those around them compared to legalized substances with higher danger percentages. The comparison and political attitudes of marijuana throughout history of the United States is what is examined in this paper to draw awareness to readers on the bias of intolerance towards marijuana. I plan on limiting my topic selection by choosing a limit of 3 substances to compare the statistics against and only recording major milestones that changed the way people viewed marijuana throughout American history. The underlying argument in this paper would be in the form of an ultimatum: legalize marijuana or criminalize alcohol and prescription pain medicine. The American people may not know why exactly marijuana is considered illegal when neither side effects or symptoms cause fatalities or crime when contrasted against prescription pain pills that target teenagers to adults. Alcohol related accidents are also significantly higher than marijuana related stresses however it has been considered wrong, immoral, and illegal for close to a century in United States history.
The media’s portrayal of marijuana in movies and television shows has always been a carefree and adventurous approach. Movies such as Half Baked, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and Pineapple Express depict the substance as a recreational tool that can enhance the quality of life and entertainment. Television shows such as That 70’s Show demonstrate an accurate depiction of marijuana use in the 1970’s which show a group of teenagers sitting around a circle smoking marijuana, giggling, and eating. Although the 1970’s was known for heavy drug use such as cocaine, LSD, and heroin, and the government’s epic battle on the war on drugs, marijuana was considered to be a gateway drug which led to endless possibilites and dangers. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, marijuana was portrayed in negative connotations after President Nixon had declared a war on all drugs which was intended for the crack and heroin epidemic however extended itself onto marijuana as well.
After the new century, the media began anti-marijuana campaign commercials that would be targeted directly towards teenagers. “Tests of sensation seeking targeting evaluated the effectiveness of targeted televised public service announcement campaigns in reducing marijuana use among high sensation-seeking adolescents,” (Palmgreen, Donohew, Lorch, Hoyle, Stephenson, 2001). This study used a controlled interrupted time-series design method to match 2 communities where one county and campaign was compared to another county and campaign. Personal interviews were conducted with 100 teenagers in a period of 32 months. The result proved the effectiveness of media towards adolescents. All 3 campaigns had reversed the trend of marijuana use. Televised campaigns that target a large group of people have an effective strategy in conveying a direct message and achieving its purpose. The message that is being portrayed however is based off of false...
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