USF's WebQuest 

Legalizing Marijuana: Morals vs. Money

Designed by: Felix Joel Romero

 

romero2@mail.usf.edu

 

 

 

Introduction

Phillip Vanfossen stated in his paper, Economic Concepts at the Core of Civic Education, that the democratic form of government is strongly related to it's economy, specifically capitalism.  He also states that people must provide an economic analysis to issues before forming policies.  The economic analysis is comprised of two distinct parts: normative economic analysis and positive economic analysis.

 

Positive economic analysis tries to determine what current conditions are like (it asks the "What is?" question) while normative economic analysis tries to find out what it should be like (it asks the "What ought to be?" question) (Vanfossen 2006).  One institution that can put a strain on the states economy is the criminal justice system.  Sometimes, the cost of some laws and policies can outweigh the benefits.

 

Some states, such as Colorado and Nevada, have attempted to pass some amendments that would legalize and regulate marijuana.  They state that marijuana has the same effects as alcohol, and that billions of dollars is being spent on policing marijuana.  They believe that the state can earn money instead of losing money by legalizing and regulating marijuana.  However, opponents of legalizing marijuana state that marijuana can cause severe harm to an individual and can destroy an individuals life, because it has a high tendency of abuse. 

 

So which side is right?  Well, we are going to find out.

Task

You and your partners will review a variety of websites.  The websites will contain information on the effects of marijuana on an individual and current legislation about marijuana.  I will also include some websites that have to do with tobacco, because you can take the information about tobacco, in terms of the money gained from taxing it, and generalize it to marijuana (Since there is no information regarding the money gained from taxing marijuana).  I also tried to put one website that is pro-legalization of marijuana for every website that is against it. 

Your first task is to get an positive economic analysis of marijuana control.  That is, how much is the states spending to keep marijuana under control (Don't forget to look at the court process as well, i.e. trial, appeals)?  Is it worth spending all of this money to prevent marijuana use?

Next, you must perform an normative economic analysis.  If you decide to legalize and regulate marijuana, you must decide how will you regulate it (for example, can marijuana be sold in grocery store, or can you only buy it from a certain store), how much you will tax it, and predict what effect it will have on the economy.  If you decide to leave the marijuana policies the way they are, then you must write down why it should stay the way it is.  Be prepared to defend your argument no matter what position you take, because you will have to write down your argument ( which should be about five pages), and defend it in class.

A lot of this information does not have resources; therefore, it is your job to come up with a logical argument.  You must also predict the effects of marijuana on the economy, and state why you believe what you believe.  You must confront the other opinion in your argument through a process called rebuttal, where you bring up a point of the opposite opinion and disprove it or explain why it is not a problem.

Process

You will first get into groups of four.  You and your partners will need to address four key areas for this topic: 1) The effects of marijuana on an individual, 2) current laws and legislation regarding marijuana use, 3) possible consequences of legalizing marijuana, and 4) how could marijuana influence the economy.  You will need to delegate the work in order to finish on time, so only one student should research one area.  You will have to predict what would happen based on your research, since there is not any websites or information regarding that.

After researching the topic, your group should then decide whether you are going to legalize and regulate marijuana, or keep current laws and policies the same.  You will then write a five page research paper on your findings (please include subheadings).  You will be submitting this paper to your teacher, so make sure that there aren't any spelling or grammar errors.  Your paper will summarize your argument.  If one member of the group did not agree with what the rest of the group decided, then he can write a dissenting opinion section which states what he or she disagreed about and why.

You will then propose your argument in front of the class along with your rationale.  You may have to defend your argument if any of the other students disagrees with it.  Your teacher will state how this debate is going to take place as well as the rules.  Remember, always be courteous and remember that everyone has a right to their opinion.  Always critique other students arguments in a professional manner.

Resources

Effects of Marijuana/Number of Arrest

         Current Marijuana Laws/Legislation

http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/marijuana/index.html

http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/

 http://www.dea.gov/concern/marijuana.html

http://www.nevadasaysno.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=1&Itemid=9

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/medicalm.htm

http://www.iowamedicalmarijuana.org/pdfs/00-151.pdf

       http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/marijuana.html

http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4950

 

http://safercolorado.org/ 

 

http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/bluebook/06Amendment44fiscalnote.pdf

   
   
Tobacco Product Information
http://tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0227.pdf
http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.0f8c660ba7cf98d18a278110501010a0/?vgnextoid=32be9e2f1b091010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD Good Section on State Revenues
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/forum/july97/tobacco_7-11.html
 

Cost of Policing Marijuana

http://bernardharcourt.com/documents/marijuana-arrests.pdf
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/11/cnnitm.01.html Towards the end after the commercial break
http://www.mapleleafweb.com/features/crime/marijuana-decriminalization/perceptions-use.html
http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/marijuana.html
Search Engines
www.google.com
www.yahoo.com

Evaluation

For Paper

Derived from www.rubistar.4teachers.org

Category

4

3

2

1

Organization Information is very organized with well-constructed paragraphs and subheadings. Information is organized with well-constructed paragraphs. Information is organized, but paragraphs are not well-constructed. The information appears to be disorganized.
Amount of Information All topics are addressed and all questions answered with at least 2 sentences about each. All topics are addressed and most questions answered with at least 2 sentences about each. All topics are addressed, and most questions answered with 1 sentence about each. One or more topics were not addressed.
Quality of Information Information clearly relates to the main topic. It includes several supporting details and/or examples. Information clearly relates to the main topic. It provides 1-2 supporting details and/or examples. Information clearly relates to the main topic. No details and/or examples are given. Information has little or nothing to do with the main topic.
Sources All sources are accurately documented in the desired format. All sources (information and graphics) are accurately documented, but a few are not in the desired format. All sources (information and graphics) are accurately documented, but many are not in the desired format. Some sources are not accurately documented.
Mechanics
No grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.
Almost no grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors A few grammatical spelling, or punctuation errors. Many grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.
Paragraph Construction All paragraphs include introductory sentence, explanations or details, and concluding sentence. Most paragraphs include introductory sentence, explanations or details, and concluding sentence. Paragraphs included related information but were typically not constructed well. Paragraphing structure was not clear and sentences were not typically related within the paragraphs.

 

For Presentation

Derived from www.rubistar.4teachers.org

Category

4

3

2

1

Posture and Eye Contact Everyone in the group stands up straight, looks relaxed and confident. Establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation. Almost everyone in the group stands up straight and establishes eye contact with everyone in the room during the presentation. Sometimes members of the group stand up straight and establish eye contact. Lots of slouching and/or does not look at people during the presentation.
Uses Complete Sentences Group always (99-100% of time) speaks in complete sentences. Group mostly (80-98%) speaks in complete sentences. Group sometimes (70-80%) speaks in complete sentences. Rarely speaks in complete sentences.
Volume Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members throughout the presentation. Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members at least 90% of the time. Volume is loud enough to be heard by all audience members at least 80% of the time. Volume often too soft to be heard by all audience members

Note:  The teacher has the right to modify the rubric has he or she see fit.

Conclusion

Congratulations!  You have researched current policies and laws regarding the use of marijuana, and have came up with a proposal which you defended in class.  As stated previously, the issue of legalizing and regulating marijuana is being seen more often in ballots and bills.  You now have a better understanding about marijuana use, and the effects on our economy which will help you make an informed decision on this topic.