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The Deviance of Marijuana Smokers
Marijuana smokers were once considered regular members of society. In 1937
all that changed when marijuana was banned and made illegal. The smokers were labeled
as deviants from then on. I studied marijuana smokers and discussed their deviance. I
would like to see whether they are ordinary members of society or deviants. I want to
answer the question, “is marijuana smoking a deviant behavior?”
I answered my research question through the data I collected. The methods I
used were, questions, surveys, and observation. I first interviewed marijuana smokers.
I asked them questions about their smoking behavior, and also found out about their
views and opinions. I collected data from nonsmokers as well, by asking them similar
questions about the deviance of marijuana. Next I observed the smokers in action. I
knew this would help me to better understand them. I was openly accepted and allowed
to observe them. I played the role of researcher and as I later found out, as a friend.
The data gave me insight into my research question because I got information from the
smokers themselves as well as those who oppose them.
The results from my data were quite an experience. From my questions I
found out that marijuana smokers do not consider themselves deviants. They defend
themselves by saying that they do not hurt anyone and that they do nothing wrong.
This technique of neutralization is called denial of injury. They emphasize the
medicinal values of marijuana, saying it can do some good to society. One said,
“we are seen as losers, rejects of society.” In reality anyone can be a smoker, a
friend, relative, or even your neighbor. When they come across a fellow smoker,
they see a friend they can relate to. They do not treat fellow smokers differently.
They are however treated differently, sometimes negatively, when nonsmokers find
out about their habits. Nonsmokers see marijuana smoking as a deviant behavior.
To them smoking marijuana is considered a bad thing. They believe smoking hurts
you and makes you do irresponsible things. I was told, “smokers are rebellious
people who probably have family problems.” Nonsmokers support their views by
emphasizing the laws on marijuana. For the second phase of my data I studied
marijuana smokers during a ‘get together’. I was allowed to observe them during
a routine smoking session. The smokers started out talking and joking around. The
group consisted of long time friends, coworkers, and a few people that only saw
each other on occasion, but they all had one thing in common, marijuana. As they
brought the marijuana out and started smoking it, they played music , talked, and
them smoked some more. The whole time the smokers just laughed and joked
around. I noticed that contrary to what others believe, they did not engage in
reckless behavior. They did what ordinary people do when they get together. One
smoker said, “ after a hard days work, there’s nothing like a joint to end the day,”
everyone agreed. The group agreed that I was just a researcher, no one pressured me
to do anything. I was seen as part of the group, they did not care if I smoked or not, I
was accepted. They saw me as a friend because I was not quick to judge them. I saw
for myself that the views others had toward them were false.
The data I collected illustrated many sociological concepts. Deviance is any
violation of norms or values. It is not in the act but in the reactions to the act. So,
deviance is an act to which others respond negatively. Nonsmokers see marijuana
smokers as deviants simply because smokers participate in an activity in which they
do not. The nonsmokers respond negatively since they believe smokers violate the
values of health and the norms of behavior. The smokers do not think they violate
any values or norms, they believe they are the same as cigarette smokers. Marijuana
smokers are in the tertiary level of deviance because they do not consider their
behavior deviant. Norms make life possible because they make behavior predictable.
Everyone depends on norms and trusts that people will meet society’s expectations.
This means we are socialized to follow norms which is why marijuana smokers
threaten society, they are not predictable. If expectations change, deviance in
marijuana smoking will change. We will always have deviance in society,but what is
seen as acceptable or unacceptable can change over time.
Marijuana smoking is a deviant behavior only because it is defined that way.
Society should not judge smokers based on their recreational activities. Smokers
are regular members of society, except for the marijuana they smoke. As my data
showed, they do not participate in reckless behavior like others believe. They do
their thing and keep to themselves hoping to one day be accepted by society. I
believe my research was successful because I was able to find the truth about
marijuana smokers. Society can benefit from my research because now
everyone can see how smokers really are and try to understand them better, thus
abolishing the label of deviance.
no bibliography all info came from personal research I did myself
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