Essay Topic: In January this year the President of the United States, Barack Obama stated
that “cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol”. Evaluate the evidence supporting the
President’s claim with particular reference to low dose, recreational use of each drug.
Starting References: Fuster, D., Cheng, D.M., Allensworth-Davies, D., Palfai , T.P., Samet,
J.H., & Saitz, R. (2014). No detectable association between frequency of marijuana
use and health or healthcare utilization among primary care patients who screen
positive for drug use. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 29(1), 133-139. doi:
Room, R., Babor, T., & Rehm, J. (2005). Alcohol and public health. Lancet, 365, 519–530.
It is important in the context of this essay that you do not devote too much of your time to
irrelevant issues. This is a very rich literature and it will be easily for you to be
overwhelmed by detail. My strongest caution is to make sure that you address the question
asked rather than present all that you know about alcohol and cannabis.
That said, an approach to the issue could look something like this:
· Begin with a general orientation to the topic and outline how you intend to approach
· Introduce the agents alcohol and cannabis.
· What does “recreational use” mean?
· What does “dangerous” mean, and how are you going to compare the respective risks?
· Provide a general orientation to how you will address the main points that you will
present in the body of your paper.
· What are the harmful/dangerous effects of both alcohol and cannabis? Don’t go
overboard on this, there will be a lot of literature on this issue and you could easily
write much more than the word limit on this issue alone. Sensibly summarise the
· How are you going to compare the respective “harm” of each drug? Do they each
affect the same or different things? If different how can you compare apples with
· How much relevant evidence has been gathered on the issue?
· Is the evidence valid and reliable for each drug?
· Form an opinion which actually responds to the question posed: what does the
evidence as you see it actually say? CONCLUSION
· Re-iterate the main points of your argument, conclude and sum up indicating what sort
of recommendations you would make taaking into consideration all of the evidence that
you have examined.
Be very careful about:
· Make sure that you actually answer the question.
· Presentation, spelling and grammar; getting this right is easy marks
· Appropriate APA-6 referencing style.
· The use of second referencing (i.e. citing a paper that has been cited by someone
else that you have read). If the paper is important enough to be included then you
should go to the trouble to actually read it.
· Determining the veracity of the methods used in the papers that you cite. It may be
that a paper does not support the majority of the literature that you have cited,
possibly because the methods used were in some way flawed. It is appropriate for
you to ensure the methodological quality of all of the papers that you discuss.
· Minimise the use of summarizing textbooks, I prefer if you read the original material
and scholarly reviews more than generic text books.