Professor’s class addresses contrasting views on drugs

By Carol Ekstrom

Current policies in drug education are falling short of their intentions, according to one NIU professor.

Educational psychology professor Tom Roberts, who has taught a drug legalization class at NIU for the past five years, said his class is instrumental in revealing the problems with the war on drugs effort.

“A growing number of respected citizens of the United States are beginning to realize that our current drug policies are immoral, wasteful and more harmful than beneficial,” he said.

“It is an unusual course to teach, but I think people are slowly beginning to recognize the need for public discussion in this area.”

Roberts said it is important for students to acknowledge people’s diverse positions on drug legalization.

“A lot of students don’t realize that government and law enforcement officials have differing opinions on this matter.”

Graduate student Mike Ells is currently enrolled in Roberts’ class. He said it is interesting to find out why people hold the views that they do.

“Before I started taking the class, my view was pro-legalization,” he said. “The class has given me facts to justify my position.”

Ells said students in the class are required to make their own drug policy and defend it.

“My policy includes the importance of marijuana for medical use,” he said. “Marijuana is used effectively for glaucoma patients, cancer therapy, paraplegics and AIDS patients.”

“If nothing else ever comes of this situation, I hope it becomes legalized for this purpose.”

Roberts said students examine issues in drug legalization, including the medical uses of illegal drugs. Students also study the effects of the War on Drugs on racism, economics, education, religion, politics and constitutional rights.

The class will be offered again in the fall for graduate and undergraduate credit.