All drugs should be decriminalised

The common perception is that such substances should be banned in order to protect the society from their harmful effects. But do these issues really limit the excessive use of drugs or on the contrary, increase the interest in them? From ancient times people all over the globe have considered that the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. Nowadays in the countries where it is illegal to sell drugs many people are involved in organised criminal networks which lead to many problems not only in the field of drugs. The consequences of growing the black market have their effects on other more dangerous crimes.

Level: Intermediate: B1/B2
Running Time: 90 minutes +

Materials included

This free lesson plan is suitable for adults, teenagers, and General English classes. Each plan includes:

  • A debate motion
  • A summary of the controversy
  • Points for both Pros and Cons
  • Language to use in a debate
  • Debate role cards to help identify student groups
  • An article
  • Statistics (true or false exercise)
  • Vocab for the topic

Preparation

For more information on how to use this in the classroom, please have a look at our detailed post on using free lesson plans.

Worksheet download

thumbnail of All drugs should be decriminalised – Articlethumbnail of All drugs should be decriminalised – pros and cons

Discussion questions

1. What types of drugs do you know of and what effects do they have on the body?
2. Can you think of any drugs which are legal in your country?
3. Do you think if the government legalised all drugs that it would lower the crime rate or the number of people who would be taking drugs?
4. Why do you think people take drugs? If you asked them, what reasons might they give?
5. What advice would you give to people younger than you about the use of drugs and the culture surrounding it?
6. Much of the illegal drug trade is linked to black market activities, why do you think this is?
7. Is there peer pressure amongst the young to take drugs?

Statistics—True or false? (answers below)

1. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2014), there are 21.5 million Americans (over 12 years old), who have used or are trying to stop taking drugs.
2. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates (2015) that 1% of all illnesses in the world are related to alcohol or drug abuse.
3. Switzerland legalised heroin for addicts over a decade ago. Nobody has ever died of an overdose there on legal heroin.
4. A Harvard professor, Jeffery Miron, has calculated that the murder rate would fall 5% if drugs were to be made legal.
5. According to the Huffington Post, drug taking is usually the result of distress that people suffer in life.

Useful vocabulary

1. Epidemic – the appearance of an illness to a large number of people.
2. Opioids – a drug similar to opium.
3. Left in the dark – to not know something, to be left out.
4. Addiction – can not stop yourself from doing something, harmful.
5. Susceptible – easily influenced.
6. Enhancing – improve the quality of something.

Reading – Legally addicted

When the debate on drugs begins, the speakers are almost always referring to heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and many others, which are banned in most countries. Rarely do they ever talk about the growing epidemic of legal opioid drug use that has risen steadily over the last 20 years.

While most are aware of the dangers of illegal drug use, many are left in the dark to what prescription drug overuse is doing to healthy people. According to the National Drug Use and Health organisation, there are just over 2 million Americans who use powerful painkillers and prescribed drugs for non-medical uses. The reasons for this addiction vary between age, gender, and social environment. What is clear, however, is that older adults and women are more susceptible to becoming addicted.

Further to this, many are becoming heavy users of dietary supplements and stimulants. Many are working hard in the gym in the pursuit of the perfect body. Body enhancing supplements are being overused in the hope that it will quicken results. Some legal drugs like Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, has been proven by the Drug Enforcement Agency to be 50 times more powerful than heroin. The next time the debate on legalising drugs begins, spare a thought to the millions of people already addicted to drugs given to them by a doctor.

Answers
1. True 2. False, it’s 6% 3. True 4.False, it’s 25% 5. True

 

Debate introduction

The common perception is that such substances should be banned in order to protect the society from their harmful effects. But do these issues really limit the excessive use of drugs or on the contrary, increase the interest in them? From ancient times people all over the globe have considered that the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. Nowadays in the countries where it is illegal to sell drugs many people are involved in organized criminal networks which lead to many problems not only in the field of drugs. The consequences of growing the black market have their effects on other more dangerous crimes.

Points For

  • The British Medical Association has conducted a research which shows that nicotine is far more addictive than cannabis.
  • Many psychological studies indicate that when something is prohibited it becomes very tempting and everybody wants to see what is it like, why is it prohibited.
  • One of the most serious problems connected with drugs is one of the diseases – such as HIV and hepatitis – spreading as a result of drug users sharing hypodermic needles as they necessarily get their ‘drug kick’ in secret.

Points Against

  • We want to point out that alcohol and heavy drugs are not similar at all. There are some similarities between them (they are both addictive), but that’s it. Firstly, drugs are far stronger in their addictive effects. Normally it takes a lot of time and effort for someone to get addicted to alcohol or cigarettes. It is not a single accident, rather a long chain of decisions made by the individual. On the other hand, heroin, for instance, requires to be used a few times to have an addictive effect.
  • Even though people are responsible for any crime under the influence of drugs, we believe that we should also do whatever is necessary to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. We do not see how it would be possible to put a policeman on every corner or trap drug users in places where they do not harm anyone. Since this is practically implausible, drugs should stay illegal.
  • We see no reasons how medical tests of drugs will help us to deal with HIV or hepatitis, which are caused by the usage of the same needle by many drug addicts, not by the quality of drugs. Clearly, nothing prevents drug addicts from using the same needle for getting themselves a “drug kick” of a high-quality drug, so their plan fails to tackle this problem.

This is a free lesson plan to be used for non-commercial establishments.

Further reading

Addiction to prescription drugs is UK ‘public health disaster’

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