U.S. Justice Department Will Not Block Marijuana Legalization

October 13, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. recreational [rek-ree-EY-shuh-nl] (adj.) – used for enjoyment rather than to treat a medical condition
Example: Most states in the U.S. allow the medical use of marijuana but prohibit its recreational use.

2. drug trafficking [TRAF-ik-ing] (n.) – the act of cultivating, manufacturing, distributing and selling of illegal drugs
Example: The man was sentenced to five years of prison after he was found guilty of drug trafficking.

3. legalize [LEE-guh-lahyz] (v.) – to become legal or accepted by the law
Example: Some countries have legalized farmers to grow marijuana for commercial use and export.
Additional info: The root word is legal (adj.), which means accepted and allowed by the law.

4. confined [kuh n-FAHYND] (adj.) – limited or restricted in size or volume
Example:  Most labor laws do not allow workers to work in confined spaces because of the hazards present in such spaces.

5. set the stage [set thuh steyj] (idiom) – to prepare the way for another thing to happen
Example: The release of the confidential documents set the stage for a national debate over privacy and government spying.


Read the text below.

The Obama administration has announced that it will not stop the states of Colorado and Washington from allowing recreational marijuana use.

In the announcement, the U.S. Justice Department outlined new regulatory schemes that it expects Colorado and Washington to follow. These regulatory schemes include preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing marijuana profits from going to criminal gangs, and preventing interstate drug trafficking.

Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the US to legalize the recreational use of marijuana after voter approvals were secured last year.  Prior to this legalization, marijuana use in the U.S. has been limited to medical applications only.

The new legislation allows people over 21 to carry up to one ounce of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. Colorado also allows people over 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants as long as they are in a confined space, while Washington requires people who want to grow cannabis to apply for a license first.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a group pushing for the legalization of marijuana, called the Justice Department’s announcement a historic step towards ending marijuana prohibition. Some opponents, however, are not too happy about the latest development, claiming that it violates the existing laws and places the citizens of Washington and Colorado at risk.

Analysts expect that the Justice Department’s move could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. Alaska, for example, is scheduled to vote on marijuana legalization next year.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the legalization of the recreational marijuana use? Why or why not?
·         Do you think that smoking marijuana is not that different from smoking cigarettes or getting drunk from alcohol? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, would it ever be possible to completely eradicate the illegal drug trade? Explain your answer.
·         Do you think that governments should be allowed to decide which substances are good and bad for a person, or should a person have the freedom to decide for himself? Discuss with your tutor.


October 13, 2013