Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Scott R. Maggard

Committee Member

Randy R. Gainey

Committee Member

Travis Linnemann

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 S77 2013


American attitudes toward marijuana have varied greatly from the time it was criminalized in the 1930's until 2010, and public opinion favoring the legalization of marijuana has steadily risen since 1990. Since the media is purported to have had an impact on the legislation rather than objective risk factors, it is possible that the marijuana epidemic could be the result of a socially constructed moral panic. As such, this study utilized General Social Survey data to examine the relationship between media exposure and attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana from 1975 through 2010, 1975 through 1990, and 1991 through 2010. The findings indicate that media exposure through the television was positively related to favor of legalizing marijuana from 1975 through 2010, and from 1975 through 1990 media exposure was not significantly related to attitudes about marijuana legalization. However, during the period from 1991 through 2010 both television and newspaper exposure had a significant positive relationship with favor toward the legalization of marijuana.


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