NIU to offer drug education course

By Deborah Costello

Beginning this summer, NIU’s Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education will offer a course dealing with drug legalization.

The course will research the various aspects of drug legalization from the political, economic, legal and family issues, said educational psychology professor Tom Roberts.

“The importance of this course is not only to inform, but also to get people to seriously consider the issues. I’m hoping to attract a lot of different people, from graduates to undergraduates to just concerned citizens,” Roberts said.

A lot of propaganda on the issue needs to be discussed, he said. The course could apply to students’ lives and other courses of study, he said.

If drug legalization occurred, it “would range from complete availability” to excluding only minors, Roberts said.

“There would have to be a case-by-case history done on each drug, testing each one separately. For instance, caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, which can be more destructive?” he said.

Roberts said marijuana could be legalized first. When the British and Dutch legalized certain drugs, at first people would use a lot, but gradually usage would decrease, he said.

“The word ‘drug’ is a bad word and is only used when you’re sick. Drugs do have some non-medical uses,” Roberts said.

“For instance, some drugs can further our human development in different states of mind, not just in our normal awake state,” he said.

“Our minds are very powerful computers and can be thought as having different programs. In the educational field, we develop one program, and our awake state is just one program from many,” Roberts said.

“We should be trying to influence students into having a fully active mind with many different programs,” he said.

Research accuracy on the effects of drugs is very low, Roberts said. Tested subjects are sometimes given large amounts of drugs at a time, he said.

“Of course, the effects wouldn’t be good,” Roberts said.

“The issue of drug legalization in the 1990s can be compared to the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s. Prohibition was primarily designed to control the increasing ethnic population of the early 20th century,” he said.

“The same can be said about drug illegalization which came from a desire to control the changing ethnic population,” Roberts said.