Marijuana Legalization

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Articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers

Here are a few tips about sources, subject headings, and strategies that you may want to start with. Note that this is just a start: think broadly about the sort of information you need and about who might have that information (government/association/academic/news/etc.).

A. Government agencies and think tanks often touch on this topic, and our Canadian Public Policy Collection database is one of the best places to find such publications. Start by searching the CPPC using various combinations of such Subjects as:

  • Marijuana
  • Marijuana industry
  • Marijuana abuse
  • Marijuana smoking
  • Cannabis
  • Government policy
  • Drug control
  • Public opinion
  • Social aspects
  • Law and legislation
  • Drug legalization
Start with this rough search. In many cases, you'll find more material by noting the organization behind the more relevant reports in the CPPC (regardless of how recent they are), and then Googling to see if they have newer material at their sites.

B. As with most contentious topics, our Canadian Points of View Reference Centre database is worth checking. This databases is focused on helping you find articles in magazines and newspapers (with a small amount of academic content) on issues that are commonly debated in society. Start with this quick search for "marijuana prohibition" or "medical marijuana".

That initial search should get you some very basic pro/con essays prepared by the database publishers. If you look to the left of your results, you'll see many check boxes to add articles from other sources to your results. Be sure to click on "Show More" to see the option for Canadian newspapers. Explore, then add more search terms to focus your search.

C Sticking with the Canada focus for now, try CBCA Complete and look for articles using the same terms (as keywords rather than subjects) that you used in Canadian Public Policy Complete. Also try Canadian Newsstand for Canadian newspaper articles.

D. The business side of marijuana legalization is also worth exploring. Try Business Source Complete. Start with a search for Marijuana industry.

E. If public opinion plays a role in your analysis, you might want to try our Ipsos News Centre database. Try just searching for "Marijuana" to start. That should get you reports such as "Seven In Ten (66%) Canadians Support Decriminalization of Marijuana in Small Amounts." Always make sure that you check for links to "Detailed Tables" for each survey.

Hmmm... Actually, since the Ipsos survey behind the "Seven In Ten..." report mentioned above was done for the Canadian federal government, the resulting reports are available on our government's pages. Check out the report here.


A. Start with combinations of the same subjects listed below, but also do some keyword searching with the terms above so that you can catch items where the terms are used in chapter titles. Also try similar searches in local public library catalogues.

Other resources

A. Related SFU Library Research Guides

The issues in this topic encompass a variety of themes such as law, psychology, physical health and demographics. Here are some other library guides that will help you navigate the information from those disciplines.

B. Given the recent law changes in Washington State and Colorado, I suspect that there are many US state and federal government sites with details that might be useful for your case. Start with this rough Google search focused on ".gov" sites. Or try this search of the "" domain, and this search of the "" domain.

C. As with any industry, the legal retailers of marijuana have an association. And, as with most associations, they exist partly to spread information about the industry. Check out the National Cannabis Industry Association out of Colorado, as well as the Marijuana Business Association and the Washington State Cannabis Tourism Association.

D. I just noticed that a local public opinion polling firm, Insights West, released results of a survey of Albertans' thoughts on marijuana legalization earlier this year: Most Albertans Voice Support for Legalizing Marijuana.

E. As I mentioned in class, this is a hot topic, so you need to keep an eye out for news articles that may have relevant information. For instance, just this morning (09 Oct) I heard a story on CBC that seems potentially useful (and is full of clues about other sources and sub-questions that you could investigate): CAMH calls for legalization of marijuana.

F. Interesting Globe & Mail article today in which they go through lots of research looking at the effects of marijuana on teenage brains: Your kid’s brain on pot: The real effects of marijuana on teens.

As we discussed in class, academic research articles can be dense to read and they tend to address very narrow aspects of a topic. Sometimes it can help to have a publication aimed at general readers (like the G&M) identify, summarize, and compare/contrast the research from several studies. Of course, you'll still want to go back and read the original research to be sure that the G&M wasn't pulling facts out of context or overstating conclusions, but an article like this is still a good start... assuming some of your sub-questions actually touch on health effects, rather than just public opinion.

Here's a link to the same article in our Canadian Newsstand database, in case the first link doesn't work for you: Your kid's brain on pot.

<No other suggestions yet - but keep checking. Also, don't forget that this is your wiki: you are welcome to add tips here whenever you'd like. --- MB>