Marijuana Social Threat the Social Term Paper

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Increases in any of these demographics is negatively correlated with polls in favor of partially legalizing marijuana use and possession, with the researcher's observations allowing some more detailed examination of the possible reasons, as well (Myers, 2011). Marijuana's association with violent crime and with a lax work ethic causes it to be more feared y Protestants and in communities with large minority populations, and individuals over the age of sixty-five are more likely to express disapproval or outfight fears of the drug and its potential to bring violence into a community (Myers, 2011). It is not that people fear the drug itself or its effects on them if they were to use it -- not a health concern, that is -- but rather that they fear what they have been told about the source of the drug, how it is traded, and the type of person that is associated with it.

Sparking Public Fears

If the feared associations and effects were actually demonstrated by empirical evidence, of course, then one could not argue that the marijuana threat was strictly socially constructed. That is, if there was a documented link between marijuana use and a lack of productivity, an increase in minority crime or violent crime, or any sign of economic depression/value shrinkage, then there would be rational and practical reasons to fear marijuana use and to make it illegal. By their very nature, socially constructed threats or "moral panics" are not based on such rational empirical evidence, so all one would need to do to justify the perceived threat of marijuana would be to empirically demonstrate any of the above-mentioned connections (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 2009; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994).

Instead, even the perpetuators of the marijuana myths of danger can only vilify the drug through implication. Though moral panics used be to fueled by pseudoscience that could masquerade more effectively as the real truth, this is no longer the case to the same degree (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 2009). As an alternative, the parties that are used to fueling the panic against marijuana turn to loose accusations and implications without needing to provide concrete evidence.

The United States government is an excellent example fo an entity using such tactics. In the federal government's most recent report on drug threats, marijuana is mentioned many times in the company of other substances such as methamphetamines and heroine (USDOJ, 2011). These latter two substances are manufactured drugs with a much higher street value per volume/weight and are well-documented sources of violence internationally and domestically, whereas marijuana is typically unaltered from its natural growing state and is thus readily available without the smuggling and crime networks that are the source of the violence and the profits with methamphetamines, heroine, and other substances. Yet the report chooses to lump all of these drugs together in its summary analyses, making the implications that the marijuana trade is as damaging as any other when the reports own statistics show that this is far from the case (USDOJ, 2012). Research onto the media effectiveness of anti-marijuana campaigns actually explicitly mentions the success in exploiting not fears for personal health and safety but social fears regarding marijuana use in creating more effective drug abstinence campaigns, in what can only be read as an explicit acknowledgment of socially constructing this threat (Beaudoin & Hong, 2012).

Conclusion

Marijuana is relatively harmless by most accounts. Social fears and ongoing moral panic have been the cause of its ongoing criminalization. As these stigmas slowly fade, reason might again reign.

References

Beaudoin, C. & Hong, T. (2012). Media Use and Perceived Risk as Predictors of Marijuana Use. American Journal of Health Behavior 36(1): 134-43.

Goode, E. & Ben-Yehuda, N. (1994). Moral panics: culture, politics, and social construction. 20: 149-71.

Goode, E. & Ben-Yehuda, N. (2009). Moral panics: the social construction of deviance. New York: Wiley.

Myers, L. (2011). Do Status Politics or Racial Threat Theories Explain State-Level Variation in Medical Marijuana…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Beaudoin, C. & Hong, T. (2012). Media Use and Perceived Risk as Predictors of Marijuana Use. American Journal of Health Behavior 36(1): 134-43.

Goode, E. & Ben-Yehuda, N. (1994). Moral panics: culture, politics, and social construction. 20: 149-71.

Goode, E. & Ben-Yehuda, N. (2009). Moral panics: the social construction of deviance. New York: Wiley.

Myers, L. (2011). Do Status Politics or Racial Threat Theories Explain State-Level Variation in Medical Marijuana Laws? Thesis: Ohio State University.

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