Public Opinion PresentationPresentation Transcript
LEGALIZING MEDICINAL MARIJUANA REACHES NEW HIGHS John West Public Opinion Presentation May 1 ,2012
WHAT DOPEOPLETHINK OF Stoners?OF WHENTHEY THINK Puff Puff Give?OFMARIJUANA Lazy?USERS?
• The United States prison system is crammed with men and women serving multiple year sentences for marijuana related crimes. According to Mauer and King, in their book „The War On Marijuana‟, “of the 450,000 increase in drug arrests during the period 1990-2002, 82 percent of the growth was due to marijuana, and 79 percent was for marijuana possession alone” ~ Across the country people suffering from afflictions are forced to break the law to relieve their chronic pain. Let‟s make note that not all users of marijuana are patients seeking relief and a vast majority seek pleasure in using the plant.
Pull Over This Is A Historical Pit StopOver time the American public opinion has been mangledand morphed by the government‟s propaganda andpolicies, that marijuana is viewed as socially immoral. In1914 the use of marijuana became a crime under theHarrison Act (Stack et al 2009).Prior to 1937 at least 27 medicines containing marijuana werelegally available in the United States through well-knownpharmaceutical firms that still exist today, such as Squibb (nowBristol-Myers Squibb) and Eli Lilly (Marijuana Policy Project 2012).
THE STATE OF MARIJUANA LAWSThe Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 established a federal lawthat prohibited marijuana. The laws and views onmarijuana need to change to coincide and reflect currentpublic opinion.A new light must be shed on this topic and the growingsupport for full medicinal marijuana legalization must beexplored through the looking glass of publicopinion, attitudes, factual information and the relevantuse of the social media platform.
WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD?This presentation will delve into the topic of medicinal marijuana (notlegalization for recreational use) and the public opinion data that has beengathered. By using several theories such as the Cultivation Theory, AgendaSetting Theory and Spiral Of Silence Theory, I will present arguments for thelegalization of marijuana from the viewpoint of the public‟s opinion.
The first documented use of cannabisas a medicine is 5000 years ago in anancient Chinese apothecary, and thistrend has been repeated by everysociety in written history wherecannabis was presentA survey of American oncologists in1990 revealed that 44 percent ofthose surveyed had advised cancerpatients to smoke marijuana for reliefof nausea from chemotherapy andradiation treatments (Eddy 2009)
MEDICAL MARIJUANA GAINS WIDE ACCEPTANCE NORML • The acceptance of medicinal marijuana in Poll 52% the United States has allowed its use to In Favor rise sharply among seekers of relief from certain debilitating ailments. A wide array of states, cities and municipalities are also wrestling with the question of what AARP ABC/WP medical marijuana is, or should bePoll 72% classified as. With no real help or Poll 46% guidance from the federal governmentIn Favor In Favor many of the smaller governments are left to enact laws in favor of legalization, which in turn violates or conflicts with laws and standards on the federal level.
• Interest groups and media outlets like FOX News and CNN are shaping public attitudes and opinions on the subject. The attitudes and opinions may also be influenced by personal experiences. There are many ways in which the public opinion arena shapes our decision. The Two Step Theory tells us that opinion leaders influence the public through media leaders and their message. Applying this theory to the use of medicinal marijuana can be logically depicted. Opinion leaders, those who hold influence on the decisions we make, ascertain their messages from the media and relay their message back to the public. As of lately this message has been widely circulating in the public forum and many public leaders, especially those in the political arena, have been throwing their support behind this medicinal cause.
In a public opinion poll conductedby the Pew Research Center ForPublications in April of 2010 foundthat with a growing number ofstates moving to legalize medicalmarijuana, nearly three-quarters ofAmericans, 73 percent, say theyfavor their state allowing the saleand use of marijuana for medicalpurposes, that is if it is prescribedby a doctor, while 23 percent areopposed.
AGENDA SETTING THEORY• The recent increase in support of legalization for medicinal purposes can be correlated with the definition of Agenda Setting Theory. This theory tells us that the media does not tell us what to think, but what to think about. With the topic of medicinal marijuana being fresh in public forum in 2012, the abundance of information, both from traditional and new media sources, is available for the American public to ingest, disseminate and make a decision with the facts that are provided.
SHIFT IN OPINION• The shift in opinion correlates with an ever-increasing support for the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Overall, nearly half of all Americans, 49 percent, now back this idea, but more than double the proportion saying so in the late 1990s (Washington Post 2010). Support for legalizing marijuana has been increasing over the past several years, rising to about 50% today. This is the highest on record.
DEMOGRAPHICS BY NUMBERS ON MEDICINAL MARIJUANA• Recent demographic trends show the movement to embrace medicinal legalization will continue• Pew Research polls also reveal that younger respondents are most likely to support medicinal marijuana legalization. The majority of 18-29 year olds surveyed found that 54 percent favor medicinal legalization, while 42 percent opposed. The same trend of data showed in the demographic of 30-49 year olds. Forty nine percent supported legalization, while 47 percent opposed
MORE DEMOGRAPHICS• Support for marijuana legalization remains greatest in the Western states like California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado with 55 percent or respondents in favor. The majorities support legalization in the Midwest with 54 percent and in the East with 51 percent. Only voters in the South still oppose marijuana legalization, the numbers reported were at 44 percent. When the demographics come to men and women, men still support legalization at a much greater support level than women, with the numbers reflecting at 55 percent versus 46 percent
SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE• Marijuana prohibition is transparent with prejudice, hysteria, and the outright rejection of science and rationality. Despite the proven medical value of marijuana, it remains misclassified under federal law, misrepresented and misunderstood by most of our drug policy makers.• The success of new initiatives, especially those in the social media fields, have pushed support for legalizing medicinal marijuana, coupled with a staggering economic downturn, a president who admitted to inhaling and governors who are willing to discuss complete legalization, make it seem possible that legal bans on marijuana will become a reality
SHALL WE CONTINUE?• The success of new initiatives, especially those in the social media fields, have pushed support for legalizing medicinal marijuana, coupled with a staggering economic downturn, a president who admitted to inhaling and governors who are willing to discuss complete legalization, make it seem possible that legal bans on marijuana will become a reality
CHECK THIS POLL OUT……AWWWWW SNAP!• The Quinnipiac Poll released in March of 2011 asked respondents their views of legislation to allow adults to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes if their doctor prescribes it. It received widespread support, with more than 70 percent support from every group in the survey
SOCIAL MEDIA MAKING A SOCIAL CHANGE• Social networking sites that make grassroots organizing easier, coupled with support for a growing medical marijuana industry, have helped fuel the push in the past few years.• Organizations like NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) have significant presence across the main social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and have dedicated, frequently updated blogs on the current issues surrounding the topic of medical marijuana and marijuana in general.
SOCIAL MEDIA, THE WEB AND ‘PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON’• With the target range of social media users (18-24) closely coinciding with the direct demographics of the main group of marijuana users (18-29), a correlation to the rise of marijuana awareness has been transcended through cyberspace to reach a wider audience through the web. With limited censorship of the web, unlike those of traditional media such as radio and television, the message of marijuana can reach a wider audience without being filtered.
LET’S NOT FORGET…..WAIT….WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!?• In the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Raich, the justices ruled 6 to 3 that the federal government has the power to arrest and prosecute patients and their suppliers even if the marijuana use is permitted under state law, because of its authority under the federal Controlled Substances Act to regulate interstate commerce in illegal drugs.• Under federal law Angel Raich was arrested for growing six marijuana plants, which was legal under California law. She sued under the fifth, ninth and tenth amendments. She also filed a suit under the medical necessity doctrine. She lost the case(s). She is currently dying of radiation necrosis and a inoperable brain tumor.
DOWN THE SPIRAL OF SILENCE• Even though overwhelming support is given to the topic, our political leaders and authoritative figures refuse to visit the topic for discussion. If the topic was revisited in an open forum we could possibly resolve a long-standing debate about medicinal marijuana legalization. Within the spectrum of the debate there lies the Spiral of Silence Theory. What this theory states is that people often feel the need to conceal their opinions, preference or views when they fall within the minority of a group.
MORE SPIRALING...• Presidential candidate Barack Obama held a town hall meeting in 2006 and again as President in 2012. Sorting through the questions by popularity reveals that 18 of the 20 most popular questions, according to YouTube, have something to do with marijuana policy, including the legalization of marijuana use, the cost of the war on drugs and other related issues. In 2006, the presidential candidate Barack Obama stated, „I inhaled wasn‟t that the point?” This was in part to try an connect with the young voters.• In January of 2012, once again with the online community marijuana reform, president Obama shied away from the question and suggested that the legalization would not be in the best interest of this country. In the public eye Obama did not want to segregate his constituents and chose to live within the spiral of silence. The President did not revisit the topic even though that a reported 80 percent of the 133, 216 questions were about marijuana policy
LET’S CONCLUDE (PLEASE SAVE YOUR APPLAUSE UNTIL THE END)• When looking at the facts and statistical numbers about medicinal marijuana it is clear that the current message and policies are backed by irrational, illogical, and false information, clearly devoid of the public consensus. In terms of the publics views and thoughts about the general legalization of marijuana. Support for legalizing marijuana is the highest it has been in 40 years of polling on this issue. Modern scientific investigation into the potential therapeutic uses of marijuana have provided much relevant, researched and documented data proving that marijuana has many valuable therapeutic qualities and benefits.
THIS IS THE LAST SLIDE I SWEAR…• A new light must be shed on this topic and the growing support for full legalization must be explored through the statistical data and looking glass of public opinion. When looking at the facts and statistical numbers about medicinal marijuana it is clear that the current message and policies are backed by irrational, illogical, and false information, clearly devoid of the public consensus. Current U.S. laws must change to help mirror public consensus and reflect public interests to show a new avenue of compassion for those who are ill and suffering.