Rhetorical Analysis on “Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense”

In ‘Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense’, Alex Newhouse, a lawyer who resides in the area of Sunnyside, Washington addresses the controversial issue of the legalization of cannabis. The sole purpose of Newhouse’s article is to persuade readers and voters that marijuana should be legalized. Throughout his article, Newhouse focuses on the use of ethos and logos, while also slightly focusing on the use of pathos, to help persuade his audience. The incorporation of such rhetoric strategies allows Newhouse to change the opinions of individuals with views opposing the opinions he, himself, holds. Alex Newhouse starts out his article with a very strong statement: “No one has ever died from simply using marijuana” (1). By opening his work with this statement, Newhouse automatically incorporates pathos, a very powerful rhetorical strategies, into his piece.

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Although it is simple, Newhouse’s statement can provoke feelings such as astonishment, disbelief, happiness, and curiosity. Readers may feel a mix of very different emotions from Newhouse’s statement, but the mere provocation of even one emotional response is enough to grab the readers’ interest and to begin persuading them to parallel their views with those of the author. Towards the end of his article, Newhouse again incorporates pathos. He does so by saying, “Regulating marijuana would also protect our children” (1). The use of this sentence allows Newhouse to appeal to the emotions of his audience. It is apparent that the sentence is aimed towards parents.

Hence, when a parent reads such a sentence, his or her instinct to protect his or her children goes off, thus making the parent feel protective, curious, and possibly even reassured and/or calm. As a result of reading the above sentence, many parents would automatically take Newhouse’s opinions into great consideration, since his sentence implies that Newhouse cares about his readers’ children. Also, by using the word “our” in that sentence, Newhouse uses ethos, appeal to credibility, as a rhetorical strategy. The use of the word “our” implies that Newhouse is a parent himself and understands what it’s like to raise children while trying to protect them from dangerous (for youth) substances, such as marijuana.

Not only is Newhouse’s opening statement, “No one has ever died from simply using marijuana” an incorporation of pathos, but it is also an incorporation of logos, another very powerful rhetorical strategy (1). In his statement, he implies that of the many people who have used marijuana, not one person has died. Newhouse’s opening statement is subtle and appears to be numberless, but it is a statistic nonetheless. Throughout his article, Newhouse makes references to many different statistics, all referring to marijuana. Another way in which Newhouse incorporates the use of logos in his article is by making statements such as, “According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, over 100 million Americans have tried or use marijuana,” and “…the U.S. has spent approximately a trillion dollars and 100,000 lives on a drug war that could be reined in considerably with marijuana legalization” (1). By using such statistics, Newhouse appeals to the logic of his audience. The use of statistics in any article or editorial appeals to the audience’s logic, which benefits the author by helping persuade his or her readers. Although Newhouse focuses on the incorporation of logos, he also focuses on the incorporation of ethos almost immediately.

In his opening paragraph, Newhouse refers to someone of higher authority, stating, “In 1872, then-President Richard Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission to study the nation’s rising drug problem. It reported the following: ‘Neither the marihuana [sic] user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety” (1). By making a reference to Richard Nixon and the Shafer Commission, Newhouse appeals to credibility, since they were well-known people of power during the time of that quote. The use of ethos, especially in the beginning of a piece of literature, automatically lets the reader(s) know that the author’s credibility can be trusted. This technique can help open the minds of readers who are in opposition of the author’s argument. In “Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense”, Alex Newhouse presents a well-supported argument on the legalization of marijuana.

Throughout the piece, Newhouse uses three main rhetorical strategies to persuade his readers: ethos, pathos, and logos. For example, Newhouse makes a reference to his life and a reference to sources that had been written by people who have/had authority on the subject of marijuana legalization. He also used quite a few statistics to persuade his audience. By repeatedly incorporating one rhetorical strategy after another, Newhouse is able to build a strong-standing argument to back up his beliefs on the legalization of cannabis. From his introductory sentence to his closing sentence, the author, Alex Newhouse, used a handful of rhetorical strategies to his advantage.

Work Cited
Newhouse, Alex. “Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense.” Yakima Herald-Republic. 13 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. .

Part 2: Legalization of Marijuana

Over the past few years, the issue of the legalization of marijuana has become a very controversial topic. When confronted with the issue, it feels almost instinctive to feel as though marijuana should forever be illegal. However, when the issue is really dissected and thought about, it becomes apparent that there are more pros than there are cons for the legalization of marijuana. Cannabis should be legalized under strict conditions (concerning who can use the substance, and how much can be used in a certain period of time) because it can increase overall satisfaction of life for cancer patients, there are no recorded deaths caused by marijuana usage, it can be taxed, it can decrease crime rates, increase state revenues, and decrease taxes. Legalizing marijuana would directly benefit cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy often makes patients experience side effects such as pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Many cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy begin to look sick, pale, and frail. Often times, they’re hospitalized for days. During those days, they look as though every ounce of happiness and satisfaction is being drained from their lives. All they can do is hope they’ll make it another day, and that tomorrow will be a better day. Perhaps if they were allowed a small amount of marijuana, their happiness and satisfaction with their lives would increase drastically. The use of marijuana can relieve chemotherapy side effects such as pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, thus allowing a patient to live a higher-quality life. Not only would legalizing marijuana benefit cancer patients, but it would also benefit the population as a whole. There have been no reported deaths caused by the use of marijuana. On the contrary, dronabinol, a synthetic version and isomer of tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary isomer and psychoactive drug in cannabis, has caused a number of deaths. If marijuana were legalized, there would be no need for Marinol, the prescription drug of dronabinol.

Therefore, people would not have to worry as much about losing a loved one because of the use of synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol. Another reason why marijuana should be legalized is that if it is legalized, it would be able to be taxed. Although taxing marijuana would not be a miraculous economy boost that would get the United States out of its debt, it would increase state revenues by billions of dollars per year. California has already made billions of dollars from the partial legalization of the drug; research has shown that complete legalization would earn the state billions of dollars more in revenue per year. Regulating and taxing marijuana would lead to a decrease in crime rates. The regulation and taxing of marijuana would automatically decrease the number of drug dealers in the United States, since the drug dealers selling marijuana would lose all of their customers to stores.

This would lead to a decrease in drug-related crimes. The decrease in drug dealers could also mean less people being sent to jail for nonviolent drug-related crimes. Since portions of peoples’ taxes go towards jails, this could eventually decrease taxes, too. When thought about simply, the legalization of marijuana may seem like a terrible idea. The thought of it spurs a terrifying image of a lazy, munchies-crazed society, merely lying back as the rest of the world moves forward. However, when thought about in more depth, it is obvious that marijuana should be legalized because it would be greatly beneficial in many different ways, for it can increase overall satisfaction of life for cancer patients, there are no recorded deaths caused by marijuana usage, be taxed, decrease crime rates, increase state revenues, and decrease taxes.

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