The terms ‘weed’ or ‘grass’ strike meaning to many Americans. When thinking of these terms, they are commonly associated with having the ‘munchies’ also known as being extremely hungry due to the side affects of smoking marijuana. What most Americans don’t realize is the benefits that can come from legalizing marijuana because their minds are clouded by the stereotypes associated with the average ‘pot smoker’. Dismiss the corny jokes and stereotypes for a second and consider the truths that are unveiled. In Timothy Egan’s “Give Pot a Chance,” Egan looks beyond the stigma of smoking weed and points out the benefits that will come from legalization. Although the government is wrongfully hindering us from legalizing marijuana, it should be a national wide policy due to the large benefit of tax regulations that will and has already arise.
Egan starts his opinion with three main arguments: marijuana related drug wars, hypocrisy, and the most important argument he points out is the tax revenue that will be generated. Drug related wars are extremely prevalent today. Egan states that there are over 853,000 arrest made for marijuana related offenses. 60,000 people have been killed because of drug wars and violent crimes regarding the distribution of marijuana. Many people are being affected by the violence of the underground markets. He briefly goes over statistical numbers and significant data to further emphasize his argument for legalization. He quickly delves into the hypocrisy of not legalizing marijuana.
He explains how our sports industry would completely collapse without all the legal drugs provided by various companies. Popular products include five-hour energy, red bull, and other pills for other uses. He points out how there were thousands of illnesses and fatalities regarding Five Hour Energy. This is an over the shelf product that can be obtained by anyone. In retaliation, Egan brings up how there are little to no people dying from marijuana ingestion. This also brings attention to one of the most common argument as to why people oppose legalization: that it is unhealthy for the human body when taken in large doses. Although not explained very well, Egan points out the hypocrisy in the rationale of people thinking this way.
Any substance taken in large doses is harmful to any human. Even something as healthy as water is bad in large doses. Although this is not a big part of his argument and does not explicitly say why marijuana is good for one or for the nation, it leads up to and adds to his claim of legalizing marijuana. The main argument for legalization and data that Egan gives is the tax revenue that will come from it. Egan arrives at this data by carefully studying the states that already have legalized medical marijuana including the District of Columbia and 18 other states. Washington State officials estimate that licensed marijuana stores will generate 532 million dollars in revenue every year. On top of that, legalization will decrease all the billions of dollars currently wasted on prosecuting and investigating marijuana cases.
Money is being wasted on investigating marijuana cases while in reality most do not even get prosecuted or even fined. Since it is legal in some states and not others, enforcement of marijuana laws are clouded making the United States lose more money. If all states had the same rules it would be easier to regulate and gain an abundance of tax revenue from. Legalization of marijuana will benefit the United States as a nation. Egan agrees that a “whiff of positive and even monumental change is in the air”. He claims that legalization will benefit us tremendously in many ways, but specifically with the generation of revenue from tax. An influx of money from marijuana taxation would greatly help the United States with financial debt. Egan explicitly links his data to his claim by openly asking his audience to consider his data and apply it to the whole nation and then stating that the taxation would help the United States.
He explains that the success from the state of Washington proves that other states will strive as well, thus adding to the success of the nation as a whole. Because there are so many issues and contradicting conflicts surrounding the issue of marijuana, Egan has to state his warrant to further emphasize his reasons for legalization and make apparent the change that could happen. The rhetor, Egan, suggests that the change will most likely happen by stating that “Obama is uniquely suited to make the argument for change. On his issue, he’ll have support from the libertarian right and the humanitarian left.” Egan implies that since 19 states have already legalized the use of medical marijuana, many states will follow in their footsteps so it is only a matter of time. Unfortunately Egan had a very powerful qualifier that was not adequately explained.
Egan implicitly argues that we, as a nation, should not wait for other states to slowly make the change to legalize. Obama and his administration have the power and more importantly the support to change it now. The lack of explaining this weakened a crucial part of his argument for national legalization. Egan believes national legalization should is needed soon rather than legalization by individual states. At the end of his speech he starts delving into his opinion he quickly adds how the law system is not enforced enough. Egan argues that with legalization nation wide, everyone would be on the same page, which is completely true.
With nation wide legalization, the issue of use and abuse can be properly discussed and determined. He uses the example of alcohol and how campaigns against drunk driving have saved countless of lives when alcohol is so easy to obtain. This could be the same way as marijuana. With proper laws, marijuana could be regulated efficiently and safely. Unfortunately he only briefly states this and does not fully explain it clearly. He is implying that marijuana is a problem because congress has chosen to make it a problem because they decided not to deal with it. I thought this did not necessarily weaken his argument but left his audience thinking.
Egan was successful at proving his point because of his strong claim, data, and warrant. He chose an engaging and interesting claim that is relatable to many Americans. The sets of data he chose to support his argument was tacitful because all Americans can benefit from money therefore everyone is in some way going to benefit from legalization. Egan makes clear the clouded stereotypes and stigma of marijuana and illuminates the truths involved. No matter our opinion or feelings on the issue, the presentation of information for the audience makes a very convincing argument.
Work Cited: Egan, Timothy. “Give Pot a Chance.” Opinionator Give Pot a Chance Comments. New York Times, 22 Nov. 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. .
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