Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback15 pages Free

The authors analyzed two convenience samples of opinion essays from U.S. newspapers to examine differences in the content and complexity of argumentation in the drug legalization debate. The first sample was of fifty-one New York Times essays from the 1970s and 1980s. The second sample was of 133 essays from twenty-seven newspapers across the country in 1989 and 1990. Content analyses suggest that the debate has shifted over time from decriminalization of marijuana, based on the civil rights of users, to legalization of cocaine and heroin, based on the perceived need to disrupt the connection between drugs and crime. Proponents of legalization provided significantly more complex arguments than proponents of continued prohibition.

Originally published in: Journal of Drug Issues, v. 23, no. 4, Fall 1993, pp. 615-629.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.