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A Comprehensive Position on Psychoactive Substances

A Comprehensive Position on Psychoactive Substances
Preparation:  By this point in the course, you have been exposed to a variety of different sources of information that attempt to contextualize psychoactive substance use in the United States. You also have written a number of short essays that focus on different substances and facets of use. Today’s assignment focuses on your ability to articulate a cohesive “summary” of your attitudes, beliefs, and understanding based on these experiences.
Your Assignment:  You have been hired by a non-partisan “think tank” to draft a position statement on psychoactive substances in the United States. This statement will be distributed to congress, members of the media, judicial agencies, public health agencies, and other interested parties. The purpose of the statement is to encourage a paradigm shift – to suggest a new way of thinking about psychoactive substances, or, if you wish, to reinforce current ways of thinking.  Content for this statement should include (examples are provided on the reverse of this sheet):
What is the psychoactive substance that is most important to address in the United States?  Choose one.
What current strategies address use of that substance?
What new strategies do you suggest to address that substance, if any?
What You Need to Submit:
This assignment should be lengthier than your other in-class assignments. It is intended that you thoroughly examine this issue.
Thorough examination of the issue                    50 points
Grammar/Spelling/Length                        10 points
Brief Sample Assignment:
Most Important Substance: Here, I’m looking for you to select a single substance (i.e., cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, etc…) that you think is important to address.  Then, explain why it is the most important substance. A shortened example might be: “Marijuana is the most important substance to address in the United States because it’s the most contentious in terms of law.  In other words, it is the area of the most conflict between state and federal governments.”
Then, tell me how you came to this conclusion (i.e., the standard that you used to determine this).
Provide examples
Current Strategies: Identify one or two current strategies (such as MLDA 21, drug scheduling, warning labeling on cigarette packages, etc…) that have addressed the use of that substance.  Then, tie them in to the issue you identified in the first part of the assignment.  For example, “Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level with no accepted medical uses.  This is because the FDA has stated that it will never approve a smoked substance as a medical product.  However, this quickly is becoming a law without teeth, as the federal government has not yet sued Colorado and Washington to force a change in their state laws…”
It is acceptable to suggest that no current strategy has been effective.
Tie these strategies directly to the substance that you identified.  How does your strategy help/hurt levels of use of that substance?
If you claim that no strategy has been effective, explain why use of that substance cannot be prevented using current strategies.
New Strategies: Having read your assignments over the past several weeks, each of you has the knowledge base and capacity to suggest intelligent new strategies. Be innovative!  Introduce a new idea. For example: “State governments should consider requiring that all current non-violent drug offenders complete their entire jail terms on probation while working on supervised skill-appropriate jobs, the income from which would be garnished and pooled to form a cost-offset fund to mitigate harm associated with substance-related criminal activity.”
Provide one reason why people in the United States might support this strategy (i.e., it appears to respect individual rights) and one reason others might oppose this strategy (i.e., it might not be cost-effective).

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