30 Apr Demonstrate the skills you have learned in this class as you strive to manifest the ability to arrive at conclusions based upon a fair-minded anal
in Social Science / Philosophy
Demonstrate the skills you have learned in this class as you strive to manifest the ability to arrive at conclusions based upon a fair-minded analysis of the best reasoning on both sides of issues. This includes presenting and evaluating the best arguments on each side, followed by a presentation of your own argument for your thesis. You will go on to support this argument using evidence from scholarly sources and addressing the strongest objection to it.
Is Marijuana Use Safe?
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Modeled example for the final paper assignment
University of Arizona Global Campus
PHI103 Informal Logic
Dr. Christopher Foster
Due: Day 7 of Week 5
Begin with a title page, formatted according to APA standards
In recent years, most states have voted to legalize marijuana either for medical and/or
recreational use (DISA Global Solutions, 2020). However, federal law still prohibits the use or
sale of marijuana in the United States, and many groups consider marijuana use to be harmful
(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). As more states consider differing degrees of marijuana
legalization (Sanders, 2018), it is important to consider whether marijuana use is safe. This paper
will explore the question of whether current medical research supports the idea that marijuana
use is harmful to human health. It will present a strong argument that marijuana is relatively safe
and a strong argument that it is unacceptably dangerous. This will be followed by a presentation
of my own argument for the conclusion that marijuana use by adults is acceptably safe. After
answering an objection to my argument, the paper will present an analysis of the merits of
reasoning and support provided by each argument.
Argument that Marijuana Use is Safe
There have been many studies that support the conclusion that marijuana use is safe.
Some of their results are summarized in this argument:
Premise 1: A giant meta-study pooled data from many research studies and determined
that marijuana use did not result in significant cognitive impairment in reaction time,
attention, language, executive function, perceptual function, or motor skills in marijuana
users (Grant et al., 2003).
Premise 2: Meta-data showed minor cognitive impairment from long term marijuana only
in the areas of learning and memory, but these were minor and can be minimized (e.g., in
a medical context) (2003).
Premise 3: Marijuana has beneficial uses that outweigh its minor harms (Wetterau, 2015).
A good intro paragraph should close with a preview of what the paper will accomplish.
It is good to have clear section headings, showing your instructor exactly where you accomplish each of the main elements of the assignment instructions.
The clearest way to express an argument is by putting it into standard form, with each premise clearly labeled and listed above the conclusion.
Though the premises and conclusion of your argument are in your own words, specific sources of information need to be cited.
This argument is an enhancement of the scholarly argument presented in the Week 3 paper.
All premises and conclusions should be one sentence each.
Premise 4: The above dangers do not constitute being substantially medically dangerous.
Conclusion: Marijuana use is not substantially medically dangerous.
Argument that Marijuana Use is Unsafe
On the other hand, many studies have indicated that there are, in fact, many risks
associated with marijuana use. Some of their chief findings are expressed in the following
Premise 1: Marijuana is an addictive substance (Volkow et al., 2014).
Premise 2: Marijuana use causes long term negative effects on physical and mental health
(Feeney & Kampman, 2016).
Premise 3: Marijuana use causes elevated driving risks (Neavyn et al., 2014).
Premise 4: Marijuana use among adolescents is correlated with lower academic
achievement, job performance, and social functioning (Palamar et al., 2014).
Premise 5: It is unsafe to use substances that are addictive and that have many negative
Conclusion: It is unsafe to use Marijuana.
Analysis of the Arguments
As noted, both arguments have premises that are supported by substantial scholarly
research. Both arguments additionally provide strong support for the truth of their conclusions.
Each includes a final premise that links the factual claims made in the previous premises to the
specific language made in the conclusion, resulting in powerful support for each conclusion.
One of the goals of a critical thinker is to make sure to understand the reasoning on all sides of a question as well as possible. Therefore, it is essential to present the strongest reasoning that we can find/think of in support of both sides of our question.
These premises summarize much of your research in your own words.
This premise provides a link from the points made in the first premises to the language of the conclusion.
Neither is deductively valid, but each is inductively strong and appears to have well-supported
premises. However, their conclusions make opposite points, resulting in an apparent
contradiction. There is a good question, therefore, of how to determine which of these
conclusions is most likely to be true.
One way to explain strong evidence for opposite conclusions is with the possibility of
researcher bias. Authors, even of scholarly studies, frequently put more focus on studies whose
results tend to support the conclusions that they personally support. Furthermore, each study will
focus on factors that strengthen the case for its preferred side. For example, a scholar whose
research supports the use of marijuana might focus on mitigating factors such as the fact that
dosages can be carefully controlled in a medical setting. Researchers on the side of the
opposition, on the other hand, may emphasize that addicted users are likely to use the substance
in doses well beyond those recommended by physicians. Therefore, there are biases, including
confirmation bias, even in scholarly sources.
Both arguments provide well-supported premises and very strong reasoning. Evaluating
which is stronger can be a difficult question. It depends upon the specific application we are
considering. If a teenager is considering recreational marijuana use, the second argument
provides substantial evidence that the demonstrated harms make the choice unacceptably
dangerous. However, if a legislator is contemplating voting for a law to legalize medical
marijuana within a state, the evidence from the first argument is adequate, in my view, to
conclude that use by adults in a medical context is acceptably safe. So relative to the question of
adult use, I determine that the first argument is stronger.
Specific examples can help to clarify and strengthen key points.
Presentation of My Own Argument
Based on my research and my evaluation of the reasoning that I have found therein, I
now present my own reasoning regarding the safety of marijuana use:
Premise 1: A scholarly study found that use of marijuana by adolescents results in long-
term cognitive impairment (Meier et al., 2012).
Premise 2: A substance whose use results in long-term cognitive impairment when used
by adolescents is not acceptably safe for recreational use by adolescents.
Premise 3: These impairments were not found in those who started smoking marijuana as
adults (Meier et. al, 2012).
Premise 4: Marijuana has only minor harms when used by adults (Grant et al., 2003).
Premise 5: Marijuana has many beneficial medical uses (Ault, 1999).
Premise 6: A substance that has many beneficial medical uses and only minor harms is
acceptably safe for medical use.
Conclusion: Marijuana is not acceptably safe for recreational use by adolescents but is
acceptably safe for medical use by adults.
Response to an Objection to the Argument
Though my argument is backed by substantial research and has premises that entail the
truth of its conclusion, there are still potential objections. One potential objection here is that the
legalization of marijuana for medical use by adults could make it more easily accessible for all,
thereby resulting in more recreational use, including by teens.
Though the premises and conclusion of your argument are in your own words, specific sources of information need to be cited.
Linking premises 2 and 6 makes the argument valid.
A response to this objection comes from studies that have investigated this very question.
Though states have different results, the strongest results come from meta-studies, which can
aggregate and analyze the results from many different studies. “A 2018 meta-analysis concluded
that the results from previous studies do not lend support to the hypothesis that MMLs [medical
marijuana laws] increase marijuana use among youth” (Anderson et al., 2019). In fact, some
studies show an actual decline in teen usage after MMLs have been passed, possibly because it
becomes “… more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by
licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.” Therefore, the risk of increased use by teens
does not seem to be borne out by the scholarly research.
It is my conclusion, therefore, that marijuana use is not safe for adolescents, but that
medical marijuana use by adults is acceptably safe. Though use at a young age can have
deleterious health consequences to mental functioning (Meier et al., 2012), use by adults has
minimal risks and has benefits that render the risks acceptable (Grant et al., 2003).
It is common for people to be wedded to a position and to seek evidence only to support
their side. However, in pursuit of truth, critical thinkers make a point of understanding the best
arguments on all sides of important questions. This allows them to be more informed and also
more fair-minded, open to changing their views to whichever position most aligns with the best
A simple concluding paragraph summarizes what has been learned and reaffirms key conclusions. Make sure to address both bullet points.
Anderson, M., Hansen, B., Rees, D. I., Sabia, J. (2019). Association of marijuana laws with teen
marijuana use. JAMA Pediatrics 173(9), pp. 879-881.
Ault, A. (1999). Institute of medicine says marijuana has benefits. Lancet 353(9159), p. 1077-
Feeney, K. E., & Kampman, K. M. (2016). Adverse effects of marijuana use. The Linacre
Quarterly, 83(2), 174-178. https://doi.org/10.1080/00243639.2016.1175707
DISA Global Solutions (2020, November 4). Map of marijuana legality by state.
Grant, I., Gonzales, R., Carey, C. L., Natarajan, L., & Wolfson, T. (2003). Non-acute (residual)
neurocognitive effects of cannabis use: A meta-analytic study. Journal of the
International Neuropsychological Society, 9(5), 679-689.
Meier, M., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R. Keefe, R. S. E., McDonald, K.,
Ward, A., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. E. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show
neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. PNAS, 109(40), pp. E2657-
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019, December). Marijuana drug facts.
Provide as many references as the assignment instructions state.
Include an APA formatted references page with your paper.
Neavyn, M. J., Blohm, E., Babu, K. M., & Bird, S. B. (2014). Medical marijuana and driving: A
review. Journal of Medical Toxicology 10(3), 269-279. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-
Palamar, J. J., Fenstermaker, M., Kamboukos, D., Ompad, D. C., Cleland, C. M., & Weitzman,
M. (2014). Adverse psychosocial outcomes associated with drug use among US high
school seniors: A comparison of alcohol and marijuana. American Journal of Drug and
Alcohol Abuse, 40(6), 438-446. https://doi.org/10.3109/00952990.2014.943371
Sanders, L. (2018, January 2). Marijuana legalization 2018: Which states might consider
cannabis laws this year? http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-legalization-2018-which-
Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. B. (2014). Adverse health effects
of marijuana use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370, 2219-2227.
Wetterau, N. (2015). Medical marijuana—Can we do no harm? Family Doctor: A Journal of the
New York State Academy of Family Physicians, 3(3), 16-20.
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