Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


Jose D. Villalobos


This Thesis analyzes the rhetoric executed by different presidents in order to sustain the battle against drugs. The war on drugs is one of the longest battles the United States has fought. From its inception under President Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, the war on drugs has become an institutionalized presidential program responsive to public demands for action against the spread of illegal drugs. Over the airwaves, presidential rhetorical overtures on the matter go hand in hand with the drug war on the streets. However, although presidential rhetoric remained largely consistent on combating and criminalizing drugs over much of the previous four decades, it has evolved more recently during the Obama administration as a growing number of observers have questioned the validity of the war and numerous states have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. This study examines in historical context the extent to which presidential rhetoric and the institutionalization of the war on drugs have begun to shift toward legalization, as well as the potential policy implications moving forward. Furthermore, this study also incorporates a social experiment that analyzes respondent's behavior to a president's speech. To conduct this research, I utilized data from The American Presidency Project and data collected through a survey.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

113 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Manuel Antonio Gutierrez