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Medical Marijuana Policy and Framing Approach Essay (Critical Writing)

The history of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is something rooted in many communities and societies. The issues surrounding the use of marijuana have led to disparate legal, medical, and religious aspects (Guffey, 2014). Lewis, Broitman, and Sznitman (2015) argue that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is something that has been embraced by many societies for centuries. For instance, the ancient Chinese are known to have used marijuana to treat pain, rheumatism, constipation, and gout (Hasin et al., 2015). In the United States, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes gained attention in the early 19th century. However, marijuana would be banned in the country in the year 1937 (Carah et al., 2015). In the recent past, the marijuana debate has resurfaced as more scientists continue to support its use for medicinal purposes. In the 1980s, the marijuana policy focused on several illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine. In 1996, the landmark Compassionate Use Act (CUA) allowed caregivers and patients to use C. Sativa for medical purposes. During the same time, the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 was also in place. Consequently, the emerging contradiction has created numerous conflicts in different states across the United States. The marijuana policy remains critical in the United States.

Political Actors and Interest Groups

The medical marijuana debate has attracted the attention of many political players, religious leaders, theorists, ethicists, and interest groups. To begin with, federal and state governments have been focusing on new ideas to address this issue. Different politicians and policymakers have presented powerful arguments to support the use of bhang for medical purposes. This movie explains why the State of California approved the use of marijuana for treatment purposes depending on doctors’ recommendations (Roby, Jacobs, Kertzner, & Kominski, 2014). Many policymakers and politicians in different states have been divided over this issue. The federal government and some politicians still insist that marijuana is an illicit compound or drug that does not have any known medical value (Roby et al., 2014). This is a clear indication that politicians have presented a wide range of views to oppose or propose this issue.

Some interest groups, religious organizations, and communities have been against the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use (Schick, 1991). These stakeholders believe strongly that marijuana is a harmful compound to a person’s health. The drug, according to them, results in numerous challenges in society. Business entities and corporations have gone further to support this policy (Carah et al., 2015). According to them, medical marijuana can improve many people’s wellbeing. The stakeholders have also outlined the economic impacts and benefits of medical marijuana. Scientists and healthcare professionals have argued that new scientific studies can be done to ensure the beneficial compounds in the C. Sativa plant are clearly understood. This analysis shows conclusively that different actors and interest groups have presented diverse views to either support or oppose the reform agenda.

Framing the Issue

Policy analysis is one of the approaches used by different actors and legislators to frame this issue. These players engage in detailed analyses and discussions to influence every decision regarding this issue. The engagement of policymakers and stakeholders can result in new ideas and influences that can reshape the policy process (Pedersen & Sandberg, 2013). The use of framing has been embraced to establish the foundation for the agenda. For instance, the stakeholders and actors focus on mass communication to promote the placement of the agenda. By so doing, the framing approach encourages more people to understand the facts of the targeted issue and interpret it accordingly. The media, for instance, focuses on the idea of framing “to provide the intended interpretations and meanings of the medicinal marijuana debate” (Carah et al., 2015, p. 825).

The framing used by different actors is divided into two foundations. The first one is a sociological foundation and focuses on how news can be relayed to the targeted audience. The stakeholders supporting or opposing the policy can embrace the use of different phrases, images, photographs, or words to support their views (Shulock, 1999). How the sociological framing is done dictates the judgments made by the targeted individuals. The second one is the psychological foundation and examines the impacts of framing on the audiences’ beliefs and perceptions (Lewis et al., 2015).

Through the use of framing strategies, the major actors in the marijuana agenda have managed to define the problem. They have gone further to offer moral arguments regarding the use of medicinal marijuana and the best solutions to deal with it. The interest groups involved in this issue have therefore used the power of framing to present their views regarding the marijuana reform (Hasin et al., 2015). For instance, those supporting the policy have outlined the major benefits such as better treatment, economic development, and improved wellbeing. Interest groups against medical marijuana have used mass media and social networks to analyze the dangers of C. Sativa.

Mass media communication uses conflict, responsibility, ethics, morality, economics, and public opinion frames to drive the medical marijuana agenda. The morality and ethics frames are used to explore the benefits vs. threats of using marijuana for medical purposes (Pedersen & Sandberg, 2013). The economic frame is used to examine the unique benefits and financial goals associated with medical marijuana.

Analysis of the Frames

Through the use of social media networks and mass communication, the sensitization process has resulted in some frames. The frames used by different groups on the same side of medical marijuana can be different or similar. For instance, interest groups, medicinal practitioners, and legislators in support of medical marijuana will present diverse views in an attempt to drive the debate. These actors can argue that marijuana is a plant that can be used to produce medicine to treat a wide range of health problems (Hasin et al., 2015). Politicians and policymakers supporting the use of marijuana can go further to outline the economic benefits of marijuana. Some policymakers might argue that the legalization of marijuana for the production of medicinal drugs will have numerous economic benefits (Pedersen & Sandberg, 2013). This is a clear indication that different arguments can be presented by these actors to support the legalization and use of medical marijuana.

Stakeholders opposed to the medical marijuana policy can argue that the plant can be used as a drug that has negative implications on the users (Guffey, 2014). Some individuals can also go ahead to indicate that the targeted patients might become addicted to the substance. Religious groups and human activists can go further to explain why the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes can increase the number of people using an illicit drug. That being the case, the involved parties will present diverse views in an attempt to either support or oppose the use of marijuana for medical purposes.


Carah, J., Howard, J., Thompson, S., Gianotti, S., Bauer, S., Carlson, S.,…Power, M. (2015). High time for conservation: Adding the environment to the debate on marijuana liberalization. BioScience, 65(8), 822-829. Web.

Guffey, J. (2014). Journal of Criminal Justice and Legal Issues, 2(1), 1-15. Web.

Hasin, D., Wall, M., Keyes, K., Cerda, M., Schulenberg, J., O’Malley, P.,…Feng, T. (2015). Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: Results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys. Lancet Psychiatry, 2(1), 601-608. Web.

Lewis, N., Broitman, D., & Sznitman, S. (2015). Medical cannabis: A framing analysis of Israeli newspaper coverage. Science Communication, 1(1), 1-28. Web.

Pedersen, W., & Sandberg, S. (2013). The medicalisation of revolt: A sociological analysis of medical cannabis users. Sociology of Health & Illness, 35(1), 17-32. Web.

Roby, D., Jacobs, K., Kertzner, A., & Kominski, G. (2014). The California health policy research program: Supporting policy making through evidence and responsive research. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 39(4), 887-900. Web.

Schick, A. (1991). Informed legislation: Policy research versus ordinary knowledge. In W. Robinson & C. Wellborn (Eds.), Knowledge, power, and the Congress (pp. 99-129). Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Incorporation.

Shulock, N. (1999). The paradox of policy analysis: If it is not used, why do we produce so much of it? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 18(2), 226-244. Web.

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