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Sample Essay on Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

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Sample Essay on Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

Introduction

The debate on the legal status of marijuana on American soil has been on for decades, over the past three decades, however, a dynamic shift from the traditional and conservative “absolute no” to the liberal “maybe”  response has been witnessed. As time elapsed, federal policy as regards to marijuana became more stringent and castigatory while state policies over the same have become quite lenient. The multifaceted approaches to the subject have left lawmakers and legislators in conflicts and also plunged the nation in dilemma.

Today, the federal government fancies a zero tolerance approach towards marijuana. Its policies are focused on supply reduction, enforcement strategies, and legal sanctions. Strict legislation and penalties have been put in place in line with the Boggs Act and Narcotic Control Act, which criminalized possession of the drug and advocated for huge fines and a mandatory prison term in case of violation. Advances in research, however point to the possibility of medicinal uses of marijuana prompting lawmakers to reconsider their stands on the drug.

Proponents of the legalization marijuana often hint at the potential economic gains seconded by the idea of the prospect clinical significance. Arguments have also been tabled on marijuana smoking being less hazardous compared to alcohol and tobacco, both of which are not criminalized. Those against this school of thought argue that the drug poses numerous harmful effects. It is also argued that legalization of this narcotic could exponentially increase its use among the population leading to more medical cases. Both sides of the divide provide valid arguments giving more reason for Americans to rethink their opinions regarding the legalization of marijuana. 

This analysis purposes to provide a deeper examination into the societal attitudes towards the legalization of this drug based selected aspects of the population. The facts surrounding this issue are of great significance and could have far reaching consequences as the drug has been clinically approved with positive effects. On the other hand, lawmakers ought to be aware of the society’s mindset on this issue so as to effectively govern them.

Population sample

In 2014 the General Social Survey (GSS) conducted a survey in America dubbed “chronicling changes in American society.” The survey often lasts approximately 90 minutes and is conducted face to face. The respondents are usually sampled from different parts of the country so as to obtain diverse views. In this survey all Americans of all ages, gender, race, worship attendance and political ideologies were targeted. Among other issues, the respondents were asked to give their opinions on the legalization of marijuana. More specifically, respondents were asked; Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not (General Social Survey (GSS), 2014)? 3842 respondents responded to this question. The data obtained from the GSS were keyed into SPSS and multiple tests conducted to ascertain the existence of any statistical significance.

Analysis of variables

The table below highlights the variables that were considered key in this survey

Variable name from GSS

Variable description

Level of measurement

Age

Age of responded

18-29

30-44

45-59

60-74

75 or older

Ordinal

Race

Race of respondent

1 White

2 Black

3 other

Nominal

Gender

Gender of respondent

Male

Female

 

Nominal

 

Study Design

For the purposes of this survey, four hypotheses were formulated based on the respondents’ age, race and gender.

H1- a vast majority of Americans are opposed to the legalization of marijuana

H2- There is a significant difference in age for Americans who are in support of the legalization of marijuana and those who are against

H3- The opinion of legalization or criminalization of marijuana highly depends on the race the individuals in question.

H4- Gender does not significantly play a role in an individual’s opinion on the legalization of marijuana.

Most of the variables employed in this study are constructed and ordinal and nominal levels of measurement and therefore the scope of statistical techniques that can be employed is limited.  For the purpose of this survey, the statistical analysis is limited to, various frequency charts such pie charts, bar graphs and cross tabulation.

 

Results

Data Analysis

H1- a vast majority of Americans are opposed to the legalization of marijuana

Category

Frequency

Percentage

Cumulative Percentage

 Z-Score

 Inapplicable

1264

32.9%

 32.9%

-.77

Should

 1377

35.8%

 68.7%

 -.14

Should not

 1046

27.2%

96%

.49

Don’t know

 153

4%

99.9%

 4.26

No answer

2

.1%

100%

4.88

                                       

The figure above is a pie chart representation of the opinions of the respondents to the survey question; do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not? Pie charts are practically handful since they sum up large quantities of data into a simple and easy to read graphic representation. From this chart, we can see the majority of the respondents, 35.8%, were of the opinion that the use of the drug should be made legal while an inferior, 27.2% of the respondents felt the drug should not be legalized. Contrary to the expectations, most of the survey respondents were for the idea of the legalization of the drug and thus the null hypothesis is thus rejected.

H2- There is a significant difference in age for Americans who are in support of the legalization of marijuana and those who are against

The figure above shows a cross tabulation frequency table of the age variation of the respondents to the survey question. From the data, it is visible that the vast majority of those in support of the legalization were youths aged between 18 and 25 years, 43.2%. On the contrary, only 19.1% of those surveyed aged 75 years and above were of a similar opinion. 44.2% of the elderly generation was against the legalization as opposed to a meager 20.1% of the youthful generation. These stats show that age is a significant factor in the opinions for or against the legalization of marijuana and thus one cannot reject the null hypothesis.

H3- The opinion of legalization or criminalization of marijuana highly depends on the race the individuals in question.

The figure above shows a cross tabulation of the racial orientation of the GSS survey respondents as regards the subject, legalization of marijuana. From the data, there was no significant difference in opinions in terms of race as is evidenced by the close statistics of 36.0%, 37.8% and 31.4% for the other race. Based on the 10 percentage point rule, a rule stating that if the percentage difference exceeds 10%, the relationship warrants closer examination,  preferred by some researchers, the percentage differences in this case are less than 10 and no further statistical  analysis is required. The null hypothesis in this case is therefore invalidated.

 

H4- Gender does not significantly play a role in an individual’s opinion on the legalization of marijuana.

A cross tabulation analysis revealed that 38.9% of the male gender and 33.4% of the female gender were in support of the survey question as opposed to 24.3% and 29.6% for male and female respectively who nodded against. This analysis reveals the insignificance of the gender issue in the debate for or against marijuana legalization. We thus fail to reject the null hypothesis.

Findings and discussion

The general aim of this analysis was to establish the societal attitudes towards the legalization of marijuana in the United States. Based on data from the General social survey, age, gender and race were singled out as the major variables of the analysis. Through this survey, a number of issues were unearthed. First, as opposed to previous surveys on the same subject, for the first time since 1972, the population felt that the drug ought to be legalized. The line chart below illustrates the trend on the general feelings of the masses on the subject since the year 1972 (General Social Survey (GSS), 2014).

Analysis of the second part of the survey reveals that apart from age, both gender and race do not have play significant roles in opinions towards legalization of marijuana. From the analysis, it is evident that the younger generation strongly fronts the legalization aspect, this can be attributed to a less conservative attitude and the possibility of youths keeping up to date with scientific research into the subject. The elder generation which can be described as being rigid and conservative has shown less support, this could be attributed to their reluctance to trash the old stereotypes that previously clouded the marijuana debate. 

From this analysis, it is clear that the position of the masses as regards the legal state of marijuana has shifted with time and lawmakers ought to put this into consideration in future legislations over the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

            General Social Survey (GSS). (2014). General Social Survey (GSS). Retrieved 11 14, 2016, from Norc: https://gssdataexplorer.norc.org/variables/285/vshow

 

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