Resolved: The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.1. Recognize that the resolution isn't just about marijuana. An affirmative that focuses exclusively on pot is not sufficiently affirming--unless able to warrant the exclusive focus. (On the other hand, it's not just about meth or heroin, either. Sorry, Neg.)
2. How much the debate concerns "the real world" is a central question. Do we look at illegal drug abuse policies around the globe? Every nation seems to have its own approach to drug abuse, so it's difficult to ascertain impacts (for those who argue largely in those terms). What if we focus on the United States, as some debaters like to do? How many of the impacts are due to prohibition?
3. Does the Aff have to advocate for some form of legalization? Is "decriminalization" sufficient? Or can the Neg argue that full-scale legalization is a Negative stance, since it would negate the existence of "illegal drugs?"
4. The "balance Neg" approach seems fruitful. A coercive mechanism, via the criminal justice system, to force illegal drug abusers into rehab, combined with a public health approach.
5. Is it a kritik to say "neither?" Public health is itself coercive, as the body politic seeks further control over the body human. (If you hear echoes of Foucault, you're in the right hallway.) Imagine the possibility of vaccinating children (or adults) against drug abuse. Soon, you may not have to imagine it.
6. Statistics on drug abuse are probably useful and reliable, but I'd be cautious with some of the "facts" about drugs, which are not only controversial (due in some cases to a lack of research compounded by the drugs' very illegality), but subject to dizzying amounts of spin, by prohibitionists and legalizers alike.
7. If I were the Aff, I would stay away from the utilitarian argument altogether, arguing instead from a rights-based perspective. The criminal justice system can already handle the societal harms caused by drug abusers--DUIs, thefts, etc.--because they're harms regardless. (We can punish someone for driving while stoned, just like we punish someone for driving drunk. The law even punishes public intoxication. Same for negligent behavior.) The point is, if we don't accept a utilitarian justification of punishment--deterrence--then we have no good reason to criminalize getting high. Even if the law deters it.
8. Drug abuse isn't drug trafficking or possession... or is it? If I were on the Aff, I might argue for a narrow definition of drug abuse, and then show that only an Orwellian police state can successfully criminalize being high. For the Neg, I'd argue that outlawing trafficking or possession is a / the legitimate way to make drug abuse a matter of criminal justice--only through an indirect route.
9. Is there any compelling reason for why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn't? If you have one, please share it in the comments. Even looking through the government's "Marijuana Myths and Facts," I'm struggling to find relevant distinction.
10. Do us all a favor and don't use any pot jokes in your case. Thanks.