What is the psychoactive substance that is most important to address in the United States?
Assignment #5 100 points ___________________________________ 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
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
What You Need to Submit:
This assignment should be a minimum of 1,250 words.
Thorough examination of the issue 80 points
Part One (Selection of Most Important) (20)
Part Two (Current Strategies) (30)
Part Three (New Strategies) (30)
Grammar/Spelling/Length 20 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).
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
Tie these strategies directly to the substance that you identified.
How does your strategy help/hurt levels of use of that
o If you claim that no strategy has been effective, explain
why use of that substance cannot be prevented using
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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