Class Debate

I just submitted for my first debate for my online course, Principles of Persuasion. I was selected to give the negative argument on the topic “America should abandon the war on drugs.” Here it is:

Sunny Curtis of Paragould was in nursing school when she was first given illegal drugs to stay awake. It was the beginning of a battle that would see her losing custody of her four children and contracting Hepatitis C, commonly transferred through contaminated needles.

Curtis is not alone is this battle. In 1999, Americans spent $63.2 billion on illegal drugs, $37.1 billion of which was spent on cocaine. Cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is “a powerfully addictive drug” that can cause violent behavior, heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes and seizure. It can also make people feel euphoric and energetic.

There were also 15,973 drug-induced deaths in America in 1997, the latest year that death certificate data was published, and the deaths were a direct result from drug consumption-mostly overdoses. If those deaths are not enough, there were 9.9 million people that reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in 2007 who could have killed themselves or others. These statistics show that drugs are not safe and dangerous as well.

Even if legalized, the argument that these illegal drugs could stabilize and regulate the American economy is far from being able to test positive. The American economy might be a work in progress for years to come, but it will take longer for Americans to have illegal drugs legalized, and to figure out how to tax and sale those same drugs. This is also not even considering the other “war on drugs” currently being fought in Mexico.

More than six thousand people died last year in drug violence and more than one thousand people died in the first eight weeks of 2009 alone, according to a March 8 Associated Press article. The 2009 figure is already increasing as the Mexican drug and smuggling cartels continue their violent competition. How will this deadly competition work out if their main business is legalized in the United States, especially if their violence is already appearing in U.S. states bordering Mexico such as Arizona?

If these illegal drugs, such as cocaine, were legalized, would they really lessen the use and dependence on drugs currently seen? I do not see any evidence that would suggest positive, but the opposite. People would still use drugs, like they still drink alcohol, and the only difference would be on which side of the law those people would be using those drugs. Alcohol, which used to be prohibited, was the cause of 21,634 deaths in 2005, excluding accidents and homicides, and there were 12,928 deaths in 2005 linked to alcoholic liver disease.

At Arkansas State University, six underage male students were charged with possession of alcohol and received referrals to student affairs for further university investigation within the first two weeks of school in the fall 2008 semester. In that same two-week period, an 18-year-old female student was sent to St. Bernards Medical Center for alcohol poisoning, three 21-year-old male students were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one male student was arrested off-campus by Jonesboro Police for driving while intoxicated.

In today’s society, saying people are ill-informed of the consequences of alcohol and other drugs should not be considered an excuse. There are multiple TV shows and ads broadcasting the facts and results of using alcohol or illegal drugs, and pamphlets and lessons handed out and taught about alcohol and illegal drugs at schools and universities, health clinics and afterschool programs. I personally know articles have been written on both subjects since I have written about the results of both, such as my Sept. 4, 2008, article detailing the consequences of drinking on campus. People are educated on the topic, so it is just not stopping their use of illegal drugs or even alcohol, a legal drug.

It was only through our war on drugs that Curtis said her life was saved. She was in the Craighead County Detention Center when she received a Bible, which she said she read only because that was all to read. It changed her life. “God was trying to pull me away from the drugs and I was fighting. Eventually he won,” Curtis said. She is now working on her relationship with her children and grandchildren.

The war on drugs will never end. It is a never ending battle, no matter how many alterations to it is made. I do not see how the legalization of illegal drugs will help. If people need the drugs for medical reasons-they are not being stopped. In fact, The Food and Drug Administration approved THC, a pill that is derived from cannabis, for treatment alongside cancer treatments and for AIDS patients as well to maintain their weight. More research is also being done on cannabis as a medical treatment. So if people’s medical needs are being met, is the legalization of these illegal drugs necessary?

In all, I do not consider the argument of abandoning the war on drugs a valid discussion. It is a war that is necessary to save the lives of people that choose to do drugs and anyone else affected by their decision. It is also a war that will likely never end.

http://www.jonesborosun.com, “Agape House.” Part 2. July 21, 2008 http://www.washingtonpost.com, “Source: Mullen offers Mexico update to Obama.” (AP) March 8, 2009 http://www.ncjrs.gov Office of National Drug Control Policy http://oas.samhas.gov Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/concern.htm U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration http://www.cdc.gov http://www.alcoholism.about.com/cs/pot/f/mjp_faq23.htm http://www.asuherald.com, “Alcohol: already a problem on campus this semester.” September 4, 2008


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