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In his editorial “Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana”, first published on April 20th 2010, J.P. Caulkins argues a statistical, factual, and logically powerful case against the legalization of marijuana. Through the use of a list of refutations to undermine any opposition, large amounts of statistical evidence to support his viewpoint, and appeals to ethos and pathos to emotionally connect to the reader, Caulkins presents a powerful case against the shift of societal ideology.
Some authors use anaphora and some authors use refutation, but Caulkins masterfully concocts both into a concrete argument which in turn seems impossible to refute. Caulkins’ essay is in its entirety a list of refutations; this unique type of anaphora accomplishes the exact same feat as the norm. Through an extended lineup, he creates the effect of a never-ending list of refutations, causing the reader to associate with the argument in a positive way due to the substantial amount of logical prosecutions. Furthermore, Caulkins carefully selects his refutations; successfully debilitating any type of counter-argument. A refutation does not always completely demolish the opposing viewpoint, but when uniquely connected in the structure of anaphora, Caulkins confirms how a good defense surely is the best offense.
Caulkins’ abundant refutations are intertwined and supported by a vast amount of data and statistical evidence, in both an economical and societal standpoint. Through his data one might question how legalization is even considered. Evidence such as how marijuana use has suffered a 54% reduction in the past 30 years but continues to cause an overwhelming amount of abuse and addiction when compared to other illicit drugs exemplifies how, if legalized, an enormous amount of newly acquired users would be at risk of addiction. Caulkins also utilizes a relatable gambling analogy. He reminds the reader how legalizing gambling did not reduce illegal gambling in the United States, but rather increased it. He asserts how legal gambling sets the stage for illegal gambling the same way marijuana would for illegal trafficking in order to bypass taxation and regulation. Additionally, he refutes the common perception that taxation of marijuana would provide revenue. He states how alcohol and tobacco related costs amount to around $400 billion collectively while through taxation a mere sum of $40 billion was accrued. Economically, this is a disaster. Caulkins predicts that the same will occur with marijuana, dismissing the claims of economic advantage for legalization.
In case the concrete evidence doesn’t hook the reader, Caulkins infuses his argument with appeals to pathos to guarantee an emotional connection against marijuana. He argues that those who agree with legalization fail to associate the costs of marijuana on society itself. He claims that they do not realize how marijuana was the “identified drug of abuse for 57 percent of the individuals referred to treatment from the criminal justice system” Such a large percentage would only increase in the case of legalization. He also cites a study which states that over a quarter of all drivers admitted to a shock trauma center due to an automotive accident test positive for marijuana. By including this study, he emotionally targets all individuals who have ever been affected by under-the-influence drivers, be it alcohol, marijuana, or any other mind-altering substance, effectively gaining their support.
Caulkins provides an incredibly effective argument against marijuana legalization. Personally, I connected with the article and was unable to identify any possible fallacies. His refutations are exceptionally logical, which when combined with his abundant statistical evidence become almost impossible to counter-refute, which he actually does exceedingly well. Every argument which I personally thought was true in defense of legalization was refuted, enlightening me with a new perspective on the subject. Moreover, he accomplishes a feat that I have not seen often in editorials; every single one of his refutations serves an individual purpose targeted toward a unique audience, which in turn allows him to connect on a broad scale with vast amounts of the population. Ultimately, Caulkins created a superb argument which seems almost irrefutable; he has gained my support against legalization.



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