The news reports on various controversial events and contemporary social issues every day. These reports are from all around the world and cover a wide range of topics. One such topic creating much attention in the United States these days is the subject of legalizing marijuana. This subject is one in which reasonable minds can disagree definitely affects the lives of the people in this country. This subject covers an issue that requires a solution; however, there are two opposing sides that want to dictate what that solution would be. On one hand, many people in America believe that marijuana should be legal, at least for medicinal purposes, and wholeheartedly support the idea. On the other hand, many people in America believe that marijuana use is morally and ethically wrong and consider it an illicit drug that should not be legalized.

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According to an article on CNN.com, the view advocating the legalization of marijuana is due to changing public opinion. For example, Maine and Michigan voted to allow adults 21 years old and over to possess marijuana, as long as it is an ounce or less. Furthermore, Colorado has completely legalized marijuana, not just for medicinal use but for recreational use as well, as long as possession is an ounce or less. Gallup poll results show that 58 percent approval rating for legalizing marijuana (McLaughlin, 2013).

Another article, in the Huffington Post, shows a stance against legalizing marijuana, based on the fact that it may contribute to youth self-medicating themselves, which leads to anxiety. This does not include opposition to medical uses, but it is aimed at the marijuana most people are anxious to legalize. This opposing view feels that marijuana would be legalized without responsibility. In other words, it should be decriminalized with various regulations, limitations, restrictions and stipulations regarding advertising, age, amount purchased, and bans for sales to intoxicated people, etc. (Samuels, 2013).

Critical Thought on the Issue
There is much critical thought that should go into putting effort toward either view, as this is a serious concept that will likely affect the entire American public. However, it is first important to understand the meaning of critical thinking and how to apply it to selected situations. Oxford Dictionary defines critical thinking as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment” (Critical Thinking, n.d.). Critical thinking involves six stages, which are: 1) knowledge, 2) comprehension, 3) application, 4) analysis, 5) synthesis and 6) evaluation (Paul & Elder, 2013).

Acquiring knowledge about this topic includes identifying key issues and specific points about the topic, which is available through new stories on the subject. At this stage, it is possible to obtain basic information. Secondly, comprehension helps to uncover implications about the issue and is the stage where one can interpret information or facts acquired in the knowledge stage. Third, the application stage is where the obtained and interpret information is applied toward solutions to the problem. In this case, both sides offer solutions to the problem. The fourth stage is where the information is picked apart, or analyzed. This stage is where assumptions are acknowledged and meanings are identified and applied to real-life circumstances. The synthesis stage, which is the fifth stage, where predictions and deductions are formulated. This is the stage where new ideas may be created, based on the information received and understood. Finally, the sixth stage is the evaluation stage, where ideas are assessed and opinions are considered and advice, based on new information is given (Critical Thinking, n.d.).

The issue of whether or not to legalize marijuana in America is a topic of much heated debate with opposing sides. Critical thought on both sides require the concerted efforts of advocates for both sides. It is noted that legalizing marijuana is good in some respects, for example, for medicinal purposes to ease the suffering of those in pain and who have certain disabilities. The fallacy in this, is noted to be that legal marijuana will not be a cure-all for these people. However, it is also noted that legalizing marijuana is not so good in other respects, such as creating a society of irresponsible potheads who got their marijuana at the 7-Eleven and are haphazardly smoking it in the streets. The fallacy in this, is not everyone will use marijuana, just because it is legal.

Conclusion
This issue will likely be a topic of discussion and debate for years to come. However, just like the prohibition of liquor and the controversy behind women smoking cigarettes being things of the past, it is likely that the complete legalization of marijuana in America is imminent and just a matter of time. The fight back and forth in various states will likely make this a slow grind; however, after more states adopt the concept, it may spread much quicker to the remaining states in the country. Public opinion has changed a great deal since decades past, and younger generations are more open and tolerant of issues that pertain to subjects of this nature, and that is just the sign of the times.