The Marijuana Legalization

Guidelines for Papers

The Assignment

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To help you meet the course objective of analyzing an issue within the framework of elements of American government, including the U.S. Constitution; institutions of U.S. government; and party, interest group and public participation; I present you with Part 2 of your paper assignment, which started with the outline you submitted. This will be worth 12% of your final grade, and will allow you to analyze in detail an issue of your choice.

Take your previous outline and turn it into a paper. I want you to analyze a recent political issue that has been controversial. For example, you could choose among other issues something like illegal immigration, gun control, gay marriage, taxes, the deficit, health care, marijuana legalization, or some other controversy of your choosing. The issue should be a broad issue that has involved most of the major institutions of the federal government and, if possible, the different levels of government (such as the federal, state and even local governments).

Briefly explain the issue. Then, address these four questions. 1) What political actors are most responsible for supporting this issue and what political actors are most responsible for opposing this issue? Why and how do they support or oppose? 2) What federal government branches and what levels of US government (i.e. federal, state, local) are involved. Why and how are they involved. 3) what, broadly, are the positions of the candidates for president on this issue and 4) what role does public opinion and the media play in this issue? How might public opinion and the media affect the political outcome??

Finally, in your last 1-2 paragraphs:

Briefly summarize your main points. Then, looking toward the future, give me your opinion. Make an argument based on what you’ve learned about the issue which side of the the issue resonates best with you and tell me why. Finally conclude the paper with the answer to this question: Do you see a resolution to this issue in the near future and why or why not?

The Nitty Gritty

I want your paper to be at least 8 double-spaced typed pages, with margins at 1 to 1.25 inches on the sides, and 1 to 1.25 inches on the top. Font should be a 10-12 point legible font, preferably something like Arial or Times Roman (nothing too fancy like cursive fonts, etc). I expect you to cite at least five different sources, whether from your book, the web, journals, newspapers, magazines or any other media. If you quote from any source, please make sure that you cite the quote in your paper either in the text, footnotes, endnotes or at the end on a references page (I’m not picky about notation style in this class, so footnotes or endnotes or author and year after the text are fine). Do not copy, or cut and paste, any text from any source without attribution. In fact, make sure that you copy quotes sparingly-avoid cutting and pasting long passages that are not your own work. All of that are examples of plagiarism and will net your paper a 0 for the assignment with possible further action. Quotes should be used sparingly and only to illustrate your examples or augment your arguments.


I will grade your paper most heavily on how you present your arguments and how you follow them up with supporting evidence. For instance, if you believe that certain interest groups are responsible for pushing government shutdowns, then make your argument clear and follow it up with examples that you can cite (i.e. newspaper accounts, a journal article, etc). I will also grade the paper on its clearness and coherency over its length. Because grammar and spelling often lend to coherency and clearness, this will be a part of the grading. Often, outlining your paper ahead of time can help you maintain a clear and coherent paper. If you have questions about this, please contact me. If you feel that your writing is not very strong, you may want to have the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at UNM look over a draft of your paper before submitting it to me. You can find more information on OWL at

Here is the rubric by which your paper will be graded:

Criteria (Weight) Needs Improvement Demonstrates Competency Demonstrates Proficiency
Formatting (30%) 33%
Provides no or less than required number of cites
Page total is below required number of pages 67%
Sources not varied. Page number just below or at
required length 100%
More cites than required from varied sources. Page limit
at or exceeds requirement
Organization (30%) 33%
Structural coherency lacking, arguments not present
or not supported, introduction and/or conclusion
lacking or weak

Paper follows a structure some or most of the time,
arguments are suported some or most of the time,
introduction and/or conclusion is present

Paper follows a coherent structure all the way through,
arguments are present and supported throughout the
paper, introduction and/or conclusion are strong providing a
clear opening and closing
Grammar (10%) 33%
Grammar and spelling are poor to fair – run-on
sentences, fragments, misspellings, use of wrong
wording – that impact the reader’s ability to
understand 67%
Grammar and spelling are fair to good – some
misspellings and grammar issues that have a
limited impact on the reader

Grammar and spelling are good to excellent, with few
misspellings or grammar issues

Concepts covered (30%) 33%
Paper covers 1-2 relevant actors/concepts (i.e.
institutions, federalism, parties, interest groups
media, public opinion, notable politicians) 67%
Paper covers 3-4 relevant actors/concepts

Paper covers 5-6 relevant actors/concepts

Due Date

The paper will be due by 11:59 pm Mountain Daylight Time on December 6th, 2020. I will be available for consult on your papers through the rest of the course. I am also available to meet if you are in Albuquerque and can meet in late afternoon or early evening, or you can arrange a phone call with me if you contact me by message first. For more information on The Marijuana Legalization see this:

The Marijuana Legalization

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