Literature Review Sample Legalization of Marijuana


Understanding why drug use is viewed in a particular manner is of vital importance for many reasons. The issue itself is tied into many other concerns in the United Stated ranging from policy making to the manner in which law enforcement and leaders react to drug use. The mentality behind drug use, both by those who use them and those who do not, matters because it informs the aforementioned entities. The college aged students are sandwiched between two major portions of their life and they in many manners represent a little of both sides. These sides are the adolescence that is in an abstract manner left behind at the end of high school, and the full adult world that one enters after college. As a group still closely tied into both of these labels, the college students’ attitude towards the changing face of drugs in terms of legalization and acceptance can be vital for understanding where the country should go in the future with laws, processes and social attitudes about drugs. Therefore, it is imperative to have an understanding of how this group views drugs, drug use and the changing legal and social narrative surroundings drug in the United States.

Significance & Benefits

The significance of this question can also be seen in the fact that researchers as well as academics often make up the base of much policy in this nation. It is academically funded and led research questions that assist federal and state agencies as they attempt to understand the causes of the things that happen in this nation every single day. Subsequently, the answer to this question and a better understanding of it can also lead a variety of organizations to assess future methods of research that they can explore and ways to incorporate this information into real world policy applications and methods.

It can also be stated that this information, should it be taken seriously and with openness, can also be beneficial for the many institutions in the United States that are currently burdened with their existing attitudes and responses to the issue of drug use amongst young people. The understanding of their attitudes towards drugs can highlight, potentially, a reasonable and rational response to a social phenomenon that may just be more open to the concept of drug usage rather than being actual advocate of drug usage. There is a distinction there in that one is a prejudicial one that assumes reckless and short sighted attitudes, while the other assumes rationale and logically thought out perceptions of drug use.

Review of Literature

Much of the existing literature on this topic has already gone out of its way to ensure a fair understanding of perceptions towards drug use amongst a cross-section of society. Some of the research dates back well over forty years and allows for a review of changes to be assessed. What this has shown for this research is that in the last forty years there has not been a significant change in the perceptions and implications of drug policy on younger people. A 2015 study in particular looked at the exact manner in which marijuana policies affect young people in particular (Ammerman, Adelman & The Committee on Substance Abuse, Committee on Adolescence, & Committee on Substance Abuse Committee on Adolescence, 2015).

This is relevant and useful information for the focus of this study because it highlights how young people in particular are affected by marijuana usage and the policies that are crafted that affect them. The most important point about this research is that is specifically addresses how intensely current policies on marijuana effect younger people and the response shows that it is effecting them. It therefore makes sense to want to understand exactly how young people themselves see the issue of marijuana and overall drug usage. This information goes hand in hand with other research that looks critically at how young people view both drug and alcohol use (Palamar, Fenstermaker, Kamboukos, Ompad, Cleland & Weitzman, 2014). The reason this is vital to the research that will be conducted here is that it looks at the actual adverse psychological damage of both and this lends itself greatly to formulating the questions that need to be asked of college students today in terms of opinions on drug usage.

The ability to make rational decisions in general is another area that is relevant in previous research conducted in this area. The question is one of whether or not younger people are able to be rationale or more risky in their decision making. The answer to this can then have serious implications for both future research as well as public policy in the real world. The linkage found would assume that there is a clear link available and that there are both misconceptions and accuracies in the connection between the two. The misconceptions are the area that need to be mitigated because as the study shows, there is a direct correlation in the implications of adolescent decision making assumptions and actual public policy (Reyna & Farley, 2006).

This is also not helped by the fact that often times it is the attitudes of the actual drug users that affects the manner in which the people making policy are viewing the situation. While there is a positive correlation there, it cannot be presumed that being a drug user is the only reason or manner that the question of young people’s views on drug usage should be assessed. Rather, the opinions of those who both use and do not use drugs should be seen side by side based on the issue of age groupings to assess the situation from an age perspective since this is how the policy affects young people. The cumulative analysis of the existing literature on this issue is that there is a clear connection between age and opinions on marijuana and drug usage. Additionally, there has been a correlation between the manner that young people are viewed on the issue and the policies that are crafted that affect them directly.



Ammerman, S., Ryan, S., Adelman, W. & The Committee on Substance Abuse, Committee on Adolescence, & Committee on Substance Abuse Committee on Adolescence. (2015).The impact of marijuana policies on youth: clinical, research, and legal update. Pediatrics135(3), 584-7.

Doctor, R. M., & Sklov, M. (1973). A Cross-cultural Study of Attitudes about Marijuana Smokers. British Journal of Addiction to Alcohol & Other Drugs68(2), 111-115.

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. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse40(6), 438-446.

Reyna, V. F., & Farley, F. (2006). Risk and Rationality in Adolescent Decision Making: Implications for Theory, Practice, and Public Policy. Psychological Science in the Public Interest7(1), 1-44.

Trevino, R. A., & Richard, A. J. (2002). Attitudes towards drug legalization among drug users. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse28(1), 91-108.