Audience analysis

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My speech on marijuana legalization and use argues that, whatever the public policy position we end up adopting is, abuse needs to be a concern andfacts need to be rectified. My intended audience are adolescents, particularly 12-17 year olds, who are either smoking marijuana or are at risk of doing so (e.g. peer group that uses marijuana frequently, bad families or emotional problems that might make a joint tempting, etc.) Teenagers get a host of information on marijuana, and I’m afraid a lot of it is dishonest. It seems that many anti-drug advocates are concerned only with stopping kids from smoking through any means necessary, not honesty, not respecting them and not making clear why in any real way. PSAs that emphasize how people crashed cars under the influence of marijuana, for example, are not only blatant guilt trips likely to turn off teenagers, but in any respect are bad arguments, since many people clearly use marijuana without crashing their cars and in any respect alcohol is legal despite the risk of drunk driving. Children and teenagers in general need to be respected, not coddled: The idea that they are empty vessels just waiting to be filled by whatever comes along is totally absurd. Kids are more like clay: They can be molded to a shape, but they have their own give and push, and someone who thinks it’s easy to control their behavior will struggle just as much as someone who doesn’t know how to sculpt. My emphasis will be on harm reduction. People who are already smoking pot or are at risk to have far too many factors pushing towards marijuana use for a simple abstinence message to make any sense. Instead, I will talk to kids about why reducing their abuse and facing up to the source of their problems could make it easier to get a job, make real relationships, find ways of enjoying themselves without smoking, and resolve some of the real issues that might be leading them to use pot as an escape.