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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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