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Should illegal drugs be decriminalized?

Gerrymandering, or drawing legislative and congressional district lines to benefit the party in power, has been a political tactic since the 1800s. But as the nation grows more entrenched in party lines and gerrymandering gets more extreme with the help of technology, the question of how to draw voting districts has drawn a lot of attention. The Supreme Court recently sent two gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland back to the lower courts, but as 2020 redistricting time looms closer, people are wondering whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional.


In Portugal, Drug Use Is Treated As A Medical Issue, Not A Crime

From Marijuana To Mushrooms, Voters Want Drug Laws Eased

Additional resources to think about

Marijuana policy should be guided by evidence, not the ballot
This article from the American Medical Association argues that marijuana legalization shouldn’t be determined by voters, but by rigorous drug testing and medical evidence. They argue for more clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the drug in treating various conditions.

The harm reduction model of drug addiction treatment | TED
Mark Tyndall takes a deep-dive into what a public health approach to drug addiction would look like, as opposed to the existing criminal justice-based approach we have in the U.S.

Drug Decriminalization | Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance supports drug regulations “grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.” This page outlines what drug decriminalization is, the potential benefits, and what its effects on crime might be.

House Approves Decriminalizing Marijuana; Bill To Stall In Senate
After the House of Representatives approved decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level in December 2020, this article looks at how lawmakers in Congress were approaching the issue of drug decriminalization.

How Portugal Ended Its War on Drugs
This Bloomberg Quicktake takes a look at the history of illegal narcotics in Portugal, and how the country managed to turn around a deadly drug epidemic.

Could Oregon's decision to decriminalize hard drugs provide a model for the country?
The west coast state has been on the leading edge of drug reform, but can Oregon's policies be a guide for the rest of the United States?


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should illegal drugs be decriminalized?

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