Psychopharmacology (PSYCH241)


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As stated in the syllabus, there are two 7-8-page writing assignments for this class.


Writing Assignment No. 2


Purpose: To consider alternatives to current US drug policy


Assignment: Create a rational drug policy for the country!!! There is very little question that most attempts to

fashion drug use policy in this country have failed in that they have not curtailed drug use to any

significant effect and/or have had unintended consequences that have made the drug problem in this

country worse. Here is your chance to determine the future of our country by identifying a rational,

effective drug policy. This assignment consists of three equal parts. Plan on devoting a third of the

overall paper (2.5 to 3 pages) to each of these parts

1. Do so by first researching alternative approaches to national drug policy (15/45 points). Examine drug policy in at least two other countries. Provide a thorough look and description of

how they treat drug use. How does their approach differ from ours? Importantly, address the

issue regarding whether their approach has been more (or less) successful than the U.S.

approach. Does their approach work better?

2. Use this material to inform your look at recommended changes to existing US drug policy (10/45 points). How would you prioritize the goals of a rational drug policy: interdiction,

incarceration, prevention, and treatment? Why? What would YOUR drug policy be for this


a. Is incarceration an appropriate strategy for drug offenders? Consider the costs of incarceration versus the impact of the increased criminal behavior committed by addicts.

b. Should we de-criminalize drugs? Should we legalize drugs? c. How can current public policy regarding prevention and treatment be improved? d. Would you incorporate harm reduction approaches? Why or why not? If yes, what

program would you use and why?

3. Finally, focus on a supplemental topic to illustrate how you would address a specific current concern about current policy (15/45 points). For your specific topic, provide a full consideration

of the scope of the problem. Address fully your suggestions and recommendations for how to

address these concerns. How would you structure policy on this issue?

Here are a few suggestions. You might select one, or another one you would like to consider.

a. Consider medicinal uses for marijuana. Examine the current legal status of medicinal use, as many states have passed laws allowing physicians to prescribe this drug and a

few have now legalized the drug. Examine critically the evidence for and against

medicinal marijuana.

b. Discuss the argument that differing prison sentences for cocaine and crack cocaine represent an insidious form of racism. Detail the court findings on this issue. Identify the

changes brought on in the last few years by the Obama and Trump administrations.

c. Consider recent cases in which physicians have been convicted of abusing their prescription privileges to serve as major drug suppliers. Identify and describe several of

these cases. How might these abuses be curtailed?

d. Examine the phenomenon of e-cigarettes and the implications of their use. Should they be regulated in the same fashion as other tobacco products? What are the risks and

benefits of their use?

e. Do we overmedicate? That is, are medications prescribed routinely without a full consideration of alternative approaches? Should children even be on medications like

Ritalin? Should we prescribe medications such as Prozac for normal variants of

personality traits (what Peter Kramer calls “cosmetic psychopharmacology”)? For

example, should a naturally shy person be given medication to promote extraversion?

f. Pick your own issue! There’s lots of them: Pink Viagra, the overdose epidemic of



prescription painkillers, MDMA as therapeutic medication, etc. The list is long.



Please note I am NOT necessarily looking for a PC-approach to your drug policy. You are free to advocate

anywhere from a “line-them-up-against-the-wall-and-shoot-them” strategy to a complete legalization of drugs.

Rather, the goal of this essay is to contemplate realistic, rational approaches to a truly pervasive problem. Be

specific, be detailed, and be thorough. For all aspects of your answer, justify your decisions surrounding the policy

you create.


Resources: You may use library, textbook, and Internet resources. Your paper should extend beyond the

description provided in lecture and textbook for the policy you create. Please take care to follow the

University’s academic code of honesty and its policy on plagiarism- no direct copying, no lifting of

ideas without proper credit, and no “cutting and pasting” from websites!


Details: All submissions must be typed double-spaced with reasonable margins. Papers are to be referenced

(preferably in APA format) with a References Cited section. There is no minimum requirement for

the number of references cited. This assignment can be completed in 7-8 pages or so, although there

is no penalty for papers that exceed this amount. (5/45 points):


Value: 45 points. Scoring will be based on appended rubric.


Due Date: See Syllabus for Due Date.


Scoring Rubric Writing Assignment No. 2: Alternatives to US drug policy

Elements Comments Score

Examination of Drug Policy

in Two Separate Countries


Recommendations: Strategies,

Harm Reduction Model,

Priority Pillars



Examination of Drug Policy

Issue: Appropriate Topic,

Identification and

Explanation of Issue.

Recommendations: Concerns,

Ideas, Recommendations



Citations, Sources,

References. Organization and

Overall Presentation

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