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The Contender
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5 Points

The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2010 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,478 times Debate No: 13723
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




This is the LD resolution for Nov/Dec sort of LD format

1st round-intro just say you'll accept the challenge and place your argument
2nd- aff cx/neg cx
3rd- final statements/rebuttals
Good Luck to us both!
"Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal; drugs are illegal because drugs are dangerous." Dale Orban, Detective Sergeant, Regina Police Service and Executive Director, Regina Police Association Canada said in a Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs focusing on Canada's anti-drug legislation and policies in May 2001.
Because I affirm Orban's statement, I am here to negate the resolution which states:
Resolved: "The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice."
I accept my opponent's value (or JUSTICE is my value)
My value criterion is must maximize total net benefits to the common good. This relates to my value in that by ultimately benefiting the common good, or working towards something that is beneficial for all, the world community is enhanced as a whole from a diverse collaboration effort in something that would please everyone. The value criterion achieves my opponent's values because…
If it is***Justice- when justice is brought down rightly, everyone benefits and benefits under the same law—there is no unfairness
If it is***Equality/Democracy- the net benefits should be equal to all parties involved and the common good includes everyone thus this is a fail and equal v/c
If it is***Utilitarianism/Morality- benefiting everyone and maximizing benefits achieves the moral obligation to do so under utilitarianism/morality
My definitions for this round are as follows:
The US Drug Enforcement and Administration defines illegal drugs as
Illegal drugs- as marijuana, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), and lysergic acid diethyamide (LSD). (USDEA)
MedTerms, an online medical dictionary defines public health as
Public Health- The approach to medicine that is concerned with the health of the community as a whole. (MedTERMS)
Criminal Justice-is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. (WIKIPEDIA)

My first contention is that addiction, while it might have the characteristics of a disease, should still be regulated by law. Stephen J. Morse of UPENN Law writes in his paper ADDICTION, GENETICS, AND CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY that quote, "Even if addiction is properly characterized as an illness, most addicts are nonetheless capable of being guided by good reasons, including the incentives law can provide." In a Workshop On The Genetics Of Drug Addiction, hosted in November 2003, by the National Academies Steering Committee On The Genetics Of Drug Addiction, Morse writes and Henrick J. Harwood of the Lewin group Presents "One has to first recognize that genetics is just one of many causes of addiction. Two underlying theses:
•(Bullet-pointThe discovery of genetic or of any other physical or psychosocial cause of action
raises no new issues concerning responsibility.
•(Bullet-pointDiscovery of such causes does not per se create an excusing or mitigating
condition for criminal or any other type of behavior."
They continue in saying quote"most addicts should be responsible for most criminal behavior motivated by addiction, but … addiction can in some cases affect the person's ability to
grasp and be guided by reason. Yet, criminal law is about actions and not about genetics. On top of this, genetics accounts for about 50% of the overall variability of addiction, thus genetics is not the only mechanism." End quote. With all of this taken into account, I also will add that as Kenneth Chiacchia states quote "It is important to note that "insanity" is a legal term, not a psychological one, and experts disagree whether it has valid psychological meaning." Also not guilty by reason of insanity ( NGRI) defenses are rare to occur and work. Drug abusers even when predisposed by genetics or even heritability to commit crimes for their addiction—stealing etc. definitely cannot plead insanity unless their case was rare and could be diagnosed legally certifiably insane. "On average, the percentage of NGRI defendants found nationwide is around .26 percent" says Chiacchia.

My second contention is that we don't have to choose between public health and criminal justice. The resolution is worded so that the affirmative must argue for public health but it does not explicitly say that the negative must argue solely criminal justice. We can use both a
criminal justice system and a public health approach. An exclusively criminal justice system or exclusively public health approach will not resolve the situation and will be more costly in both efforts and results; a symbiotic relationship between the two is the most effective approach.
How can the issue be eradicated or improved to a better situation when under a solely public health approach, we are unable to actually achieve results when someone refuses to seek or comply with help/ health information from his doctor or from the clinic? No one can enforce it without the criminal justice component of force and compulsion under law in place. We need that component in order for the ideas of a solely public health approach to work.
•since addiction is self afflicted and the user, at all times, can be compelled (even if only a little) by reason and the threat of negative consequences, the criminal justice system should remain in place to discourage people from using illegal drugs-----without the compulsion of the criminal justice system to coerce a person into treatment, we will face a serious problem that we would want to eradicate
•My sub-contention is that using this reward-punishment system
According to a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug abuse ranks number one among the top ten out of 36 problems which Americans perceive to be a very serious problem. 82% of Americans recognize drug abuse to be a major issue. Most striking is the way it affects the community----particularly the school: according to NIDA from a National Health Survey on Drug Abuse quote "Children with prenatal cocaine exposure are (1.5 times) more likely to need special education services in school. Special education costs for this population are estimated at $23 million per year." How can a solely public health approach help solve this problem and reap a greater benefit to the common good which needs this malefactor to be eradicated from the community? The UN has shown governments that have done this and has succeeded in applying both a criminal law and public health approach to the drug issue. In a radio broadcast by their Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the synopsis reads that quote "In two Caribbean countries, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the governments are seizing the large real estate properties of drug lords and converting them into rehabilitation centres. Even the drug dealers' limousines are taken and turned into ambulances for the victims of the drug trade!" This is surely a maximal net benefit to both victims (the abuser and community) and it is in accordance with the law since those drugs are illegal.
The affirmative must prove to you that solely a public health approach without that necessary criminal justice component is actually a better, more favorable approach to dealing with illegal drug abusers and that it alone will solve the issue.


*This site won't let me post full sources so look for them in the next round. Thanks again and good luck!


Hello everyone. I'd like to thank my opponent for presenting the debate. Today I will be arguing for the resolution "The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice."

Before I start, I would like to make three points which are encouraged notes to keep in mind when reading both my and my opponents arguments.

1) My opponent has not made the distinction between "abuse of illegal drugs" and the "illegal drugs" themselves. There is a cross between the two in my opponents argumentation and my first order of business will be to make a distinction between the two terms, how they apply to the resolution and how the distinction between the two affects the discussion of the debate.

2) Much of my opponents argumentation comes from source quoting. I would like to disregard much of this as an assertion fallacy, however, for the purposes of keeping this a respectful & meaningful, I will try to make out what my opponent is saying and see whether or not this is still holds true for his/her position.

3) My opponent has attempted to create a biased resolution. While the case I am arguing is consistent, that abuse of illegal drugs is a matter of public health, my opponent attempts to take a neutral position make the case for why both of these must be considered, and not one or the other. He says that the resolution appeals in his favor, but nowhere in the resolution does it appeal to one side or the other (it doesn't say, "must be treated SOLELY as a matter of public health" or "solely of criminal justice").

In the interests of the debate, I will continue to argue that the ABUSE of illegal drugs ought to be treated solely as a matter of public health, rather than solely as an act of criminal justice (as the resolution implies).

To start the debate, I will introduce the purpose of anti-drug policy today. I would like to then review what my opponent has said and see if these points still stand. Then, in light of the utilitarian values that my opponent has proposed, I will make a case for why when drug abuse is treated as an issue of public health not as criminal justice it is my utilitarian & thus better for society.

So, let us begin.

What is integral to this debate is to understand what the purpose of anti-drug policy is. The purpose of anti-drug policy is clear, to nullify illicit drug use. There are four essential pillars to reducing illicit drug abuse: prevention, treatment, harm-reduction and enforcement.

What this debate ultimately comes down to is whether or not law enforcement or deterrence is a more effective way of reducing drug abuse versus treatment & harm reduction (or by addressing the issue of drug abuse as a matter of public health concern) more effective in reducing drug abuse.

I would like to present the following two rebuttals in favor of my case:

1) Addiction is in fact a disease not a crime -

We have to understand the addiction is a physiological and psychological burden on the individual who has continually used the drug. My opponent has misunderstood how the addiction really affects the role in which responsibility plays when the act of abusing the drug takes place. The opponent used sources to indicate claims like, "most addicts should be responsible for most criminal behavior motivated by addiction, but … addiction can in some cases affect the person's ability to
grasp and be guided by reason. Yet, criminal law is about actions and not about genetics.". While I contest, addiction is not a hereditary disease (it's not something you genetically inherit), but something that develops from prolonged cyclically reinforced drug abuse (the more you do it, the more you are addicted). Once the addiction develops, the person's will & reason is deeply weakened in its role to prevent further drug abuse. Thus, it is appropriate to discern, criminal law is not about conscious actions. It doesn't apply to an unconscious desire like the addiction (that develops physiologically & psychologically from drug use).

Health care is more appropriate to deal with the issue because it treats addiction properly - as a disease and not a crime. What we have to understand is that it is not the drug abuse that is the enemy but the drug itself. After a person is afflicted with drug addiction, when they are seeking treatment and want help, where ought we put them? To jails or to treatment beds? To law enforcement or to health professionals?

2) Criminal justice deters from not promotes towards treatment

What has been the most integral movement in anti-drug policy in recent history? The War On Drugs. Championed by president Ronald Reagan, the War on Drugs is a movement primarily focused on law enforcement and criminal justice to deter and ultimately stop illicit drug abuse. However, it has been constantly concluded by the media, the public at large and even governments themselves that this is a wrong approach.

What I will be arguing in this argument is why criminal justice sometimes does not work with treatment, but against it. It's really in the title, WAR on drugs. In the War on Drugs, we must discern who is the enemy, and it's very clear - the enemy includes the addicts, the users, the dealers, anyone who poses a threat. A massive a stigma is being perpetrated against drug abuse - addicts are singled out & excluded as a blight on society. However, addiction is a blight, addicts are not. Addicts are human beings who need to be treated like diseased human beings, human beings who need help. They need to be treated as those who are sick, not as "criminals", not as "drug users". I've attested in my previous point, when the addiction gets so serious, when the drug abuse hits its critical point - the user is no longer using the drug, the drug is using them. And so, these people conscious of what is happening to them, they are conscious of the burden of the drug, both on their mind, their state of being psychologically but also physiologically - the danger of cardiac arrest, liver failure, heart failure - of their impending mortality. These individuals need to be treated, not stigmatized. They need to be put into treatment, not into jails.

Does law enforcement coercion deter people from using drugs? No, if anything, it encourages them. If people are stigmatized against authority, they will use drugs to rebel. The war on drugs has been carried out for decades, yet drugs are cheaper, easier to get and more dangerous than ever before. Law enforcement is not in control, the dealers are. Law enforcement work against addicts not with them. People are stigmatized against, and thus people are much more afraid to approach our police authority & subsequent treatment and rehabilitation. It's a statistical reality.

I would now like to close by examining the utilitarian values that my partner has espoused and see whether or not these fall into my favor or his.

Justice: My partner assumes that justice is always brought down rightly. However, he ignores that justice is imperfect, and it is precisely the purpose of this debate to examine whether or not it is just to treat addiction or drug abuse as a matter of public health. If it does (and I have made the case for why it does) then the justice perpetrated is immoral & doesn't benefit society.

Equality/Democracy: My opponent has misunderstood the fact that individuals burdened by drug abuse are addicts who need medical treatment like anyone else afflicted by disease. They should be treated equally to those of health care patients.

Thus ultimately, the utilitarian values better promote drug abuse when treated as a health concern vs criminal justice.

I challenge my opponent to make new arguments for criminal justice as an appropriate method to deal with drug abuse, to use arguments made by him/her vs secondary sources (& thus appeal to authority) and to stay true to the direct meaning of the resolution & not to skew it in a
Debate Round No. 1


smileydma forfeited this round.


Ok well smileydma didn't mean to forfeit the round so I won't take this opportunity to compound my argument (for the sake of fairness).

However, vote con :)
Debate Round No. 2


smileydma forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited the round and conceded their points to my rebuttal. Seeing as there are no more valid arguments proposed by the opposition, it is reasonable to conclude my victory for the debate.

Vote Pro
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by arturo 5 years ago
Don't forget again...
Posted by smileydma 5 years ago
Oh my goodness, i am so sorry I completely forgot I put this up and I hate how there's a response time limit here but I you don't forfeit the round or the debate... w/e i'll try to get my rebut. asap once I find out
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Is it okay to accept and not use LD format?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ethopia619 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:25