Smart Decisions: Medical Marijuana And Drugs: Case For Legalizing Marijuana Questions

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Respond to the following questions for the student assignment and then the professional assignment.
1. What controversy is discussed in this argument? What position does the author take on the controversy?
2. What is the point of the first supporting argument? Is it convincing? Why or why not? How could an opponent attack this argument?
3. What is the main thrust of the second and subsequent supporting arguments? Are they convincing? Why or why not? How could an opponent attack these arguments?
4. Which major opposition arguments does the author attempt to refute? Is the refutation convincing? Why or why not?
5. Overall, is the topic of the reading noteworthy or compelling? Explain.
6. What "hook" does the writer use to capture your attention? Is the hook effective? Do you want to continue reading or viewing? Describe.
7. Describe several striking explanations or details from the writing. What reaction is evoked by the explanation or details?
8. Finally, describe the closing. Does it seem appropriate? Effective? Support your view.
9. Do the essays remind you of a topic that you are interested in pursuing. If so, could you write on this topic? List several possible topics for the writing assignment in this module.

Student Assignment:
Smart Decisions: Medical Marijuana by Brett Carlson
Picture in your mind a young girl that is almost done with her freshman year of high school. These next few years are supposed to be some of the best years of this girl’s life. But instead of this young girl worrying about what clothes she is going to wear, or how she is going to style her hair, she has to worry about side effects of chemotherapy. Melinda has been diagnosed with Hodskins Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes, at age fifteen. When all the other fifteen-year-old girls are busy chasing boys and dealing will all the drama that comes with high school Melinda is in the hospital getting blood transfusions because the chemo has depleted her of necessary cells.
The chemo that Melinda has transfused into her has many side effects that come with it. The chemo basically kills a person in order to kill the cancer cells. These side effects include nausea, intense pain and a loss of appetite. There is only one drug that exists today that has the potential to cure all of the above side effects, and that is marijuana. This drug is currently illegal, and doctors cannot prescribe it to patients.
This issue affects college students because we are the ones that are going to play a role in this debate in the future. Many of us are going to become doctors, FBI agents, or United States Senators. That is why college students need to be informed about this complex issue. We are the ones that are going to be making decisions about this issue later on in our lives.
The debate on legalizing marijuana for medical use is not just a simple pro/con debate. It is a very complex issue that has many different approaches to it, and in each of the approaches there are differences of opinion. Three main sides to this debate are the medical approach, government and enforcement approach, and the lawmaker approach.
The medical approach consists of doctors that treat cancer patients, and cultural beliefs that since marijuana is illegal it should not be used at all. Some doctors and people of the public believe that marijuana should be used to treat side effects of chemotherapy, and other doctors and people of the public believe that it should not be used as a medicine.
Many doctors believe that marijuana works as a great pain killer, appetite increaser, and it reduced nausea. Since the legalization of medicinal marijuana in California, many patients have said that marijuana is the only thing that helps achieve symptom relief (Eidelman). In some cases, patients report that marijuana enhances the effects of prescription drugs, which might have been helping, but not enough (Eidelman). Dr. Eidelmen, a physician in California that supports marijuana, is a firm believer that marijuana is a great asset for treating cancer patients. Not only does it help relive side effects from the chemo, it also works together with drugs already prescribed to them.
Not all doctors, however, believe that marijuana should be used to treat side effects in cancer patients. According to Dr. Hiebert, a doctor that uses hypnosis to help people quit smoking marijuana, “There is no concrete evidence that marijuana has any medical value. Dr. Hiebert claims that, “Smoking marijuana makes glaucoma and the symptoms of multiple sclerosis worse, not better.” Dr. Hiebert has the exact opposite opinion from the other physicians above. He believes that marijuana does not have any positive effects on the human system. The only thing that marijuana does to the system is damage it.
Another part of the medical approach is the cultural belief that since marijuana is illegal it could not be a medicine. The general public trusts the government’s decision in making it illegal. Since the government made it an illegal substance it could only be harmful to you. “If the drug is harmful to you, then how can it ever be used as a medicine”, said Randall Schamp, a hard working American. Many people share this same opinion, which will not help physicians that want marijuana legal for medical reasons convince the public to allow that to happen.
The lawmaker approach, which consists of people in the judicial system, are the ones that make the final decisions in issues like medical marijuana. The US Supreme Court has opened hearings on whether the distribution of marijuana for medical purposes should become legal under federal law (Josefson). The case has been prompted by legislation in California in 1996 allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes (Josefson). This is showing that some courts are showing leniency towards marijuana. Most people believe that the courts are very strict on the issue of legalizing marijuana, but this article shows us the exact opposite. The courts are not always straight edge when is comes to marijuana.
Federal courts are very serious about the reasons why marijuana is illegal, and aim to keep it illegal A House Judiciary panel passed a resolution rejecting the legalization of marijuana for medical use (Alcoholism Reports). Marijuana is labeled as a dangerous and addictive drug, because it falls under the Controlled Substances Act. Do to this fact the conclusion has been made that marijuana is physically and psychologically damaging, no matter what it is used for (Alcoholism Reports). According to the annual Alcoholism report the federal judicial branch is not in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical reasons at all They believe that it is just as dangerous as cocaine. That it is just as damaging and addicting as any illegal drug out there.
The government and enforcement approach has a lot of influence on whether or not marijuana will be legalized for medical uses. In states where marijuana has been voted to be legal for medical purposes, governmental officials still use their power to encourage people not to use marijuana for any reasons. Within weeks after voters in Arizona approves propositions allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes the Attorney General sprang into action (Kassirer). Attorney Janet Reno announced that physicians in any state who prescribed the drug could lose the privilege of writing prescriptions This shows that the federal government has power greater than the state governments, and it shows that the federal government does not approve of marijuana being used for medical reasons.
It is not just the federal government that is opposed to legalizing marijuana for medical uses. Here in Colorado Senator Wayne Allard is opposed to the entire idea. In an e-mail I received Senator Wayne Allard said, “I have not supported any legislation that would provide therapeutic use of marijuana to treat illness.” He supported his stance on the debate by saying, “The Food and Drug Administration has rejected marijuana for medical use in the past and has discontinued its single patient investigational new drug program for therapeutic marijuana due to a lack of support for beneficial claims.” After reading this letter from my Senator I have learned that republicans in Colorado do not support using marijuana for medical use. I also learned that the FDA had totally given up on researching benefits that marijuana could give to people suffering from cancer.
The government officials have their influence on this debate, but the police also have their say. The most difficult part for police officers is going to be determining who can legally possess marijuana. Also, in states that have made medical marijuana legal, it is still against federal law to smoke it. In the six states that marijuana has been voted to be legal to use for medical purposes, federal law still requires them to prosecute any cancer patient smoking a bong (Hornblower). This leads to much confusion for the law enforcers. They do not know which individuals are allowed to possess and consume marijuana, so police officers will arrest anyone they see smoking marijuana.
These confusions led Chief Brown of Arcata, California to take mug shots of those that can legally consume marijuana. These mug shots are then printed on a “City of Arcada Proposition 215 Identification Card.” Now when the legal user is smoking their marijuana they just have to show police officers their ID card and they will not be arrested (Hornblower). The only exception to this is if you possess more than ten marijuana plants; the limit on plants is to distinguish users from illegal distribution.
The debate over the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons has arguments from three main approaches: medical approach, lawmaker approach, and the government and law enforcement approach. Having debates from these three sides of the issue prove that this issue is a very complex one, and it affects everyone especially the college students of this country. The college students are the future of this country, and they are the ones that are going to be making the decisions on this issue in the future. Educate yourselves on this subject, so that when making decisions on this subject later in life you make the smart one.

Professional Assignment
Drugs: Case for Legalizing Marijuana By GORE VIDAL
In the Long Run It Would Save Lives and End Hypocrisy
It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost. Label each drug with a precise description of what effect--good and bad--the drug will have on whoever takes it. This will require heroic honesty. Don't say that marijuana is addictive or dangerous when it is neither, as millions of people know--unlike "speed," which kills most unpleasantly, or heroin, which is addictive and difficult to kick.
For the record, I have tried--once--almost every drug and liked none, disproving the popular Fu Manchu theory that a single whiff of opium will enslave the mind. Nevertheless many drugs are bad for certain people to take and they should be told about them in a sensible way.
Along with exhortation and warning, it might be good for our citizens to recall (or learn for the first time) that the United States was the creation of men who believed that each man has the right to do what he wants with his own life as long as he does not interfere with his neighbor's pursuit of happiness (that his neighbor's idea of happiness is persecuting others does confuse matters a bit).
This is a startling notion to the current generation of Americans who reflect on our system of public education which has made the Bill of Rights, literally, unacceptable to a majority of high school graduates (see the annual Purdue reports) who now form the "silent majority"--a phrase which that underestimated wit Richard Nixon took from Homer who used it to describe the dead.
Now one can hear the warning rumble begin: if everyone is allowed to take drugs everyone will and the GNP will decrease, the Commies will stop us from making everyone free, and we shall end up a race of Zombies, passively murmuring "groovie" to one another. Alarming thought. Yet it seems most unlikely that any reasonably sane person will become a drug addict if he knows in advance what addiction is going to be like.
Is everyone reasonably sane? No. Some people will always become drug addicts just as some people will always become alcoholics, and it is just too bad. Every man, however, has the power (and should have the right) to kill himself if he chooses. But since most men don't, they won't be mainliners either. Nevertheless, forbidding people things they like or think they might enjoy only makes them want those things all the more. This psychological insight is, for some mysterious reason, perennially denied our governors.
It is a lucky thing for the American moralist that our country has always existed in a kind of time-vacuum: we have no public memory of anything that happened before last Tuesday. No one in Washington today recalls what happened during the years alcohol was forbidden to the people by a Congress that thought it had a divine mission to stamp out Demon Rum and so launched the greatest crime wave in the country's history, caused thousands of deaths from bad alcohol, and created a general (and persisting) contempt for the laws of the United States.
The same thing is happening today. But the government has learned nothing from past attempts at prohibition, not to mention repression.
Last year when the supply of Mexican marijuana was slightly curtailed by the Feds, the pushers got the kids hooked on heroin and deaths increased dramatically, particularly in New York. Whose fault? Evil men like the Mafiosi? Permissive Dr. Spock? Wild-eyed Dr. Leary? No.
The Government of the United States was responsible for those deaths. The bureaucratic machine has a vested interest in playing cops and robbers. Both the Bureau of Narcotics and the Mafia want strong laws against the sale and use of drugs because if drugs are sold at cost there would be no money in it for anyone.
If there was no money in it for the Mafia, there would be no friendly playground pushers, and addicts would not commit crimes to pay for the next fix. Finally, if there was no money in it, the Bureau of Narcotics would wither away, something they're not about to do without a struggle.
Will anything sensible be done? Of course not. The American people are as devoted to the idea of sin and its punishment as they are to making money--and fighting drugs is nearly as big a business as pushing them. Since the combination of sin and money is irresistible (particularly to the professional politician), the situation will only grow worse.
Gore Vidal, playwright and novelist, is the author of the newly published "Two Sisters."

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1. What controversy is discussed in this argument? What position does the author take on the controversy?
This essay discusses the legalization of marijuana for medical use from the perspective of medical doctors, the police, the Government, and Legal Decision-Makers. Even though the author does not defend any position clearly, it may appear that the position taken in the essays is against marijuana legalization.
2. What is the point of the first supporting argument? Is it convincing? Why or why not? How could an opponent attack this argument?
The first paragraph introduces the supporting arguments for the medical use of marijuana. It aims to prove that the medical use of marijuana can help alleviate pain in cancer patients and increase the effects of some medicines used in cancer treatment. However, the argument does not sound convincing because it does not present any data that would support these claims. Additionally, the author bases the supporting claims on one article and view of one physician. The opponent could state that using marijuana can have many severe negative effects that could overweigh some of its potential benefits.   
3. What is the main thrust of the second and subsequent supporting arguments? Are they convincing? Why or why not? How could an opponent attack these arguments?
The next few paragraphs discuss the cultural dimension of marijuana legalization, as well as the legal standpoint on this controversial issue. These paragraphs are somewhat convincing considering that the author offers a wider overview of articles, examples, and legal acts that do not favor the legalization of marijuana. The potential way to attach these arguments...
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