Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Integrated Marketing Communication

First Advisor

William Berry

Second Advisor

Charles Mitchell

Third Advisor

Linda Keena

Relational Format



Inflammatory rhetoric and increasingly punitive drug policies dominated marijuana politics in the past. Today, as 36 have legalized cannabis in some form and 17 states have legalized recreational marijuana, the federal government continues to perpetuate policies of the past. The following analysis investigates rhetoric and policies that led to the War on Drugs as well as their outcomes, the dramatic shift in public opinion as states began to legalize marijuana, and the successes and failures of state cannabis programs to identify gaps within the MORE Act, the ideal policy, and politically viable incremental change. State programs are incapable of addressing issues regarding data collection, research, and equity. The MORE Act passed by the House of Representatives in December 2020 presents a semi-comprehensive federal reform option. The ideal cannabis reform, however, should address guidelines for federal regulators, barriers to employment and entrepreneurship, incentivize state cannabis legalization and expedited expungements, expand research and data collection, and provide a framework for federal communications. Despite the act’s shortcomings, it remains politically infeasible in today’s polarized climate. Immediate incremental cannabis reform should take the form of action by the Attorney General and Congressional action expanding cannabis research supply and funding, requiring public health data collection, rescheduling marijuana, and authorizing doctors to write prescriptions for medical marijuana.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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