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May 09, 2006

The feature article in the current (June) of Atlantic magazine concerns what its author (Jeffrey Rosen) thinks is likely to be an imminent development: the overturning of Roe V. Wade by a newly configured SCOTUS. Although Rosen's careful parsing of the various possibilities doesn't mention the drug war-–– even tangentially–– the situation is laden with significance for the intermediate future of drug policy to a degree that suggests reformers would very quickly be presented with a variety of important political opportunities by any significant resurgence of the abortion issue at the Supreme Court level.

For one thing,  the national policies now controlling both contentious issues were created by–– and to a degree, remain dependent on––   medical decisions made by medically ignorant Supreme Court Justices. That fact alone would allow drug policy activists to capitalize on any debate prompted by a move against Roe from the far Right; especially if were tp involve 'partial birth' abortion. Unfortunately,  it would also require reform leadership to demonstrate considerably more knowledge of drug policy history than they have to date.

A very interesting variation with respect to the abortion controversy is that even if Roe were to  be struck down by the Court, abortion would not automatically become illegal; rather the policy would be up for grabs. Given how national attitudes toward abortion are now being expressed, it's very unlikely that a national top-down, rigorously enforced  general ban would ever gather the support needed to pass. What is far more likely is that abortion would be decided by the individual states and probably remain legal for a numerical majority of American women. A similar outcome with in the case of drug use would represent a huge victory for drug policy reform and such an argument might be made very effectively as the dust from Roe was starting to settle. Of course, a more enlightened attitude toward the medical use of cannabis (especially by 'reformers') would be a big plus in any event.

The more one reads Rosen's analysis, the more uncannily it echoes dilemmas similar to those which confound the drug policy stand-off, including the political risk each side runs by rejecting all compromise on  doctrinal grounds. Although there are obvious differences, the article deserves careful attention from people with a serious interest in 'medical marijuana.'

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at May 9, 2006 01:30 AM


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