First Year Writing
February 8, 2015
Rhetorical Analysis Assignment
The social issue of cannabis and its legalization is a prominent and controversial issue in today’s society. Since its prohibition, which started in the early 1930’s, cannabis has always been dealt with negatively as an issue in the nation. But ever since California passed an initiative to allow medicinal cannabis to be used in 1996, America had its eyes opened to the abundant amounts of pros and cons of the legalization of cannabis. On September 2nd, 2014, Zach Walsh led a TEDx event titled, “Making Peace with Cannabis,” which was a very informative presentation on the subject of cannabis. Walsh tries to persuade the audience into accepting cannabis as a viable medicine and stress reliever and argues that cannabis prohibitionists had tainted the reputation of cannabis. Similarly, an article titled, “Marijuana milestone; Drugs policy,” published by The Economist, also tries to persuade the reader into legalizing marijuana and argues that the war on drugs is lost when it comes to cannabis. Both these articles support the legalization of cannabis and effectively persuade the audience into having a more open mind by the use of rhetoric situations.
The first piece of text regarding the social issue of cannabis is a video of a TEDx event by Zach Walsh. Zach Walsh, PhD, is an assistant professor in the UBC department of psychology and co-director for the centre for the advancement of psychological science and law. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Winnipeg and he received his Ph.D in clinical psychology in 2008 from the Chicago Medical Brown University Centre/Rosalind Franklin University. This piece of text addresses a public audience. TEDx events are usually self-organized and bring people together to share an experience similar to a real TED event. In this specific event, Walsh’s rhetorical purpose is to persuade and to inform. Walsh is trying to persuade the audience into accepting the use of cannabis medicinally and recreationally. Walsh tries to persuade the audience with the use of rhetoric devices such as analogies and humor. My experience with this text surprised me because I learned many facts about cannabis that I did not know before. Walsh does a good job connecting to the audience and creates a comfortable environment for the topic at hand. The first four minutes of Walsh’s presentation is very informative about cannabis and gives a brief history lesson about the plant. In this segment Walsh describes the many medical reasons for the use of cannabis and also the reasons for its use recreationally. He then goes on to show a very detailed picture of the plant and even goes back 5,000 years to a depiction of cannabis plants. Walsh does all these things in order to give some background information on cannabis, but more importantly, does this in order to depict cannabis in a more approachable way. This is all part of Walsh’s rhetorical situation. He wants to inform the audience about cannabis as a medicine first in order to shed a positive light on it. Walsh then mentions that, “many Canadians are making the rational choice to use cannabis.” Walsh knows what he’s doing here and has to make correct word choices in order to set the audience up for the rest of his presentation. He uses the word “rational” in that sentence in order to show that these people are normal and mentally stable. Next, Walsh displays the picture of a cannabis plant in order to show that cannabis is just a plant. The picture shows all of the parts on a cannabis plant and it looks like any other plant a human would see. After this, Walsh goes through the cultural changes of cannabis and makes a relationship between cannabis and humans. He correlates cannabis to Queen Victoria and shows that she used cannabis extract as a therapeutic medicine more than 100 years ago. These strategies Walsh uses further addresses the approachability of cannabis to