Psychopharmacology Debate

we will be having our first debate on the topic “Are laws against drug use effective at stopping drug use?”

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to explore the *EVIDENCE* both for and against a statement, to help you formulate your own position on a controversial topic. To help with that, you must prepare and bring to class (either electronically, or hard copy) a 3-page, double-spaced (as in, 3 pages of actual writing, not including the references list) APA-formatted, literature review that provides research/data/facts on EACH side of the issue (Half with evidence FOR the idea, and half with evidence AGAINST it) followed by your own personal position in a brief paragraph at the end.

This review should be chock full of facts and data to be used as “ammunition” in the debate! It should not contain unsupported opinions (your own or others’) except for that last concluding paragraph.

Where do you get your info? From official sources.

JOURNAL ARTICLES: Search the scientific journals by visiting our library ( –> clicking the Databases and Ejournals button –> then selecting Psychology –> and clicking the PsychINFO database. Like any online search, it may take you a few tries to hit the perfect combination of search terms to get what you’re looking for.

OFFICIAL AGENCIES: Data and facts found on official websites (FBI, NIH, APA, or other official scientific or governing bodies) may also be used, as long as they are properly cited. These don’t have to be from the US (sometimes comparing our war on drugs to European successes/failures is useful) as long as you do your due diligence to make sure they’re an official source, and not some dude’s opinion blog about legalizing weed or shrooms or something.

As for how this will work in class, no worries, you will not have to get up in front of the class and present anything! You will be graded solely on the quality of your content and your clarity of your paper. In class, we’ll just have a super informal discussion. We’ll start with one side of the argument, people will throw out facts they’ve found that support that side…then we’ll move to the other side and do the same. The goal is exposure to as many facts as possible. You will likely not have gathered the same evidence as your fellow students, but through listening to everyone else’s gathered facts, you will hear WAY more evidence tidbits that you possibly could have learned from your own small 3-page paper.

Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing everything you’ve gathered on both sides of this issue!

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