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Jane Drexler
PHIL 1250, Sp 2016
March 20, 2016
Signature Assignment #1

Argument Analysis
Marijuana Should NOT be Legalized

In the last decade the debate of whether marijuana should be legal or not has risen. Although this is not
a new issue, it is one that has been given new light due in part to advances in scientific research in
comparing the pros and the cons of marijuana use. With states such as Washington and Colorado
already legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use many are weighing ethical reasoning,
economical justifications, as well as the political impact and the effect legalizing weed will have on users
health in an effort to decide whether or not marijuana should be legalized. In this examination I will be
analyzing an argument against the legalization of marijuana. I will deconstruct the argument and break it
down into its main premises and sub-premises, I will also diagram the argument, as well as identifying
some of the unstated warrants and assumptions associated with the issue, and also providing an
evaluation and response.


Issue: Should marijuana be legalized for recreational and medicinal use in the United States?

Conclusion of argument I am analyzing: No, marijuana should not be legalized.

Burden of Proof:
The burden of proof in this argument as well as with any other argument lies on the one that is making
the claim. Due to the fact that marijuana is currently legal in the majority of the United States those
claiming that it should be legalized have the heavier burden of proof. However, the prevailing
presumptions that many individuals and groups have about this issue can alter this.

For example, one of the major reasons against the legalization of marijuana is because its use is seen as
immoral from a religious perspective. If an individual traveled to the Midwestern part of the country
which has been deemed as the Bible Belt of the United States, and made the claim that marijuana
should be legalized they would have the burden of proof in this situation, because many people there do
see marijuana as something immoral and against their religious beliefs, and therefore their belief is that
it should remain illegal.

However, on the opposite, in Mendocino County California, the largest cash crop produced is marijuana.
This is a crop that is helping to stimulate the local economy by providing an income to many who work
to harvest and plant the marijuana, some of these otherwise wouldnt have a job. Many people there
see that it could be even more beneficial to them economically if the government was allowed to tax
this currently illegal industry. If an individual claiming that marijuana should not be legalized were to
travel to this part of the country, they would bear the burden of proof for their argument that marijuana
should not be legalized.

As was stated earlier, for this argument I place the burden of proof on those making the claim that
marijuana should be legal.


Conclusion: Marijuana should not be legalized.

Major Premises:
1. Marijuana use can result in mental diseases.
a. Memory loss
b. Anxiety and depression
c. Schizophrenia
2. Marijuana is bad from a religious viewpoint.
a. Marijuana alters the mind
b. Certain religions believe you should always be in a state of mind to make clear thought
out decisions.
3. Legalizing marijuana will usher in new version of big tobacco.




Premise 1


One of the largest concerns with legalizing marijuana is the effects that it will have on peoples mental health. Many scientists
and experts have different opinions, and as a result it is difficult to get a definitive answer as to whether or not marijuana has a
negative effect on peoples mental health.
In the sup-premise that marijuana causes anxiety and depression- perhaps this is true, but anxiety and depression are also
caused by many other factors, some of which are chemical imbalances in the brain. The warrant to this sub-premise is the
symptoms of depression are lack of responsibility, motivation and perspectives. Many people however, actually use marijuana
as a way to deal with these symptoms. In our busy modern lives, we have a lot of responsibilities and sometimes people want
to escape these responsibilities and relax, this is not a symptom of depression it is a symptom of life, and marijuana is a way for
people to treat this symptom.
Finally, the premise that mental illness is bad for our society is one that sounds correct in theory, however, this notion doesnt
hold up. In the sub-premise that people with mental illness are not able to fully contribute to labor force or school, the warrant
is that work and school are important parts of contributing to society. This is not completely true, there are many aspects
involved with being a contributing member of society, and there are many now who have mental illnesses, through no fault of
their own that are able to have jobs and also many are able to go to school, and do well. In addition, I do not see the warrant
that peoples individual actions have an impact on society, we are a society made up of individuals, and how one person
chooses to live their life is their choice, it is our responsibility to help them as we all as a society work towards the goal of
bettering ourselves, and marijuana usage for many is simply a way to deal with the issues they have and relax.

Premise 2

First, I will look at the premise that marijuana should not be legalized because it is bad from a religious point
of view. While many religions do believe that marijuana use is bad and therefore it should not become legal,
using this as a main reason to justify this argument goes against the constitution of the United States. Article
six of the first amendment outlines an ideology that has been more recently interpreted to mean the
separation of church and state in governing. The unstated warrant to this premise is that we should take
other peoples religions into consideration when making laws. While this seems like a necessary thing in any
democratic system of government, in reality it is not. Due to the countless denominations and faiths in our
country, our government would come to a halt if all of the needs of these different parties was a major
determining factor in making decisions. Additionally, the legalization of weed does not mean that certain
religions that teach against its use now have to accept its use as part of their beliefs. Everyone is entitled to
make their own decisions, while an individuals religious beliefs can influence their own decisions these
beliefs cannot be used in an authoritative way to effect someone elses personal choices.

Furthermore, the sub-premise that marijuana use alters the mind as well as the warrant that things that alter
your mind are bad, when used to justify religious reasoning behind not legalizing marijuana almost seems
hypocritical. While the linked sub-premise which states that certain religions believe you should always be in
a state of mind to make clear decisions almost seems to justify this as a valid argument, in reality it does not.
Many churches do not have any doctrinal stances impeding their members from drinking alcoholic beverages.
While it is true that marijuana does have short-term effects on the brain resulting in a high it is not any more
dangerous than the buzz that someone gets from drinking beer. Alcohol-related causes are responsible for
nearly 88,000 deaths in the United States yearly, with many of those deaths being related to drunk driving. In
conclusion, marijuana is a less dangerous substance than alcohol therefore if either of these two should not
be made legal based on the greater threat they pose to our society it is far and away alcohol.

Premise 3


Finally, in examining the premise that legalizing marijuana will result in the creation of a new version of big
tobacco, I do recognize and agree with the sub-premise that selling marijuana would be profitable to tobacco
companies. Moreover, in responding to the warrant that companies that currently sell tobacco will begin to
sell marijuana I do see the potential problems that could arise from this, I see this as a potential result of any
emerging market, with large companies always posing the threat of invading other markets. This is not
something that is limited simply to marijuana and tobacco and therefore is part of the nature of our
economy. The production of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington is done mainly by farmers
with small operations. Also, because of the nature of the cannabis plant versus tobacco, and because with
marijuana you smoke just the weed whereas cigarettes have dozens of other additives, people could
potentially grow their own marijuana. Thus providing large tobacco companies that may begin to sell
marijuana with a smaller market to sell to.

However, this is where the marketing becomes an issue. The warrant to the sub-premises about the
marketing of tobacco to children, is that they will now do the same thing with marijuana. I see this as
something that can easily be prevented in the creation of the laws that legalize marijuana. There are
currently many restrictions placed on tobacco companies about how they can advertise, and who they can
market to, due in part to these restrictions there has been a decrease of young smokers by nearly 15% since
1996. If these same types of restrictions were placed on advertisements for marijuana it would bring results
similar to those of tobacco manufacturers.