Legalising cannabis: School children debate

Should cannabis be legalised? This thorny political issue will be debated by teams of school children in a national competition designed to challenge the pupil's scientific knowledge. The event is part of the Festival of Social Science organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will be staged at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

The Great Pharmacy Debate 2010 is now in its second year and will pit eight teams of GCSE pupils from around the country against each other in a series of head-to-head debates on a range of topical issues, culminating in a grand final.

"Each team will take part in three rounds of debates discussing three themes, one of which they know about in advance and two others that will be revealed on the day in the form of 'inspirational talks' from two distinguished guest speakers," says Briony Hudson, the event's organiser.

Each round will be scored by judges including pharmacy students who have been specially trained by the English Speaking Union. The two teams with the best performance will then fight it out in the grand final. The final will be judged by Ms Hudson, and the two guest speakers, Professor Jayne Lawrence, chief scientific advisor to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and Dr Adam Hedgecoe of the ESRC's Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics.

"The aim of the event is to engage with schools to share what we do here and to give the participants an understanding of the history of pharmacy and of current pharmacy trends," says Ms Hudson. "The pupils are aged 14-16, and this is a good age to engage them because they will be starting to think about what they might like to do in the future. There will be plenty of opportunity for them to talk with the students currently studying pharmacy, who will be helping out on the day."

The subject for the final debate will be based upon a display in the museum that has historical and topical relevance. The winning team will be presented with a replica pharmacy jar and books for themselves as well as their school.


Economic and Social Research Council


  1. Blair Anderson Blair Anderson New Zealand says:

    Unquestionably a topic of the day. And honourably 'vested' by a stakeholder with many players who it could be argued, have no pecuniary interest in cannabis per se, rather in its prohibition. Its status quo. The courage to ask young people, in particular about cannabis by way of an essay of course will in and of itself be influenced by an interested and education orientated demograph.  The goal ultimately would be to have everyday school classes adjudicate and perhaps participate in advancing the debate. Currently they are dissuaded by the likes of NZ Justice Minister Simon Power with his over my dead body rhetoric reminiscent of the previous National PM, Jenny Shipley.

    (an act that is tantamount to civil if not criminal non-feasance. Courts enforce law, not governments, they are responsible for the policy and its impacts, positive and negative. Governments make law and are thus compelled to due process best practice.)

    If I was a kid I would just plain rebel! Being Rad is so much easier. Politicians expect kids to behave like adults while treating adults like children.  

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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