On Monday, Oklahoma state prosecutors won a case against pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson; claiming the corporation pushed doctors to prescribe opioids and thus furthered the opioid epidemic, the prosecutors convinced a state judge to rule in their favor. As a result, Johnson and Johnson will have to pay over $574 million for their damages. But there’s a major issue with this verdict: the state of Oklahoma has some of the strictest drug laws in the country. Their part in the drug war has caused immeasurable suffering to countless people.
Since 1971, Americans have been victims of the war on drugs. Nixon began the war on drugs to target anti-war hippies and people of color, and we still pay the consequences today. As polls show that over 62% of Americans support marijuana legalization and psychedelics continue to help those in need, we are left to wonder why this drug war continues. Isn’t the government supposed to serve us? Aren’t our representatives supposed to represent American interests? Or are there other, less immediately apparent interests at play?
There is hope on the horizon for America. For the first time in three decades, overdose deaths have stalled. Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, is hailed as the reason for this decline in overdose deaths. This is a major step forward in the battle against the opioid epidemic in America.
Opioids come in many forms, ranging from painkillers to heroin. Naloxone has been used since the early 70s and has found widespread use by paramedics and firefighters. In April, the FDA approved a generic form of Naloxone, and the results are in.
Recently, several states have furthered bills that restrict abortions. Most notably, the Alabama law has garnered significant attention; 25 white male Republicans who voted for the bill have seen severe backlash from millions of Americans who believe men should not legislate women’s bodies, that women should have bodily autonomy. For what it’s worth, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who signed the bill into law, is a woman. But that shouldn’t be worth very much.
Without a doubt, this law is a disappointing step backward in the quest for bodily autonomy. However, I fear that many who make the argument for bodily autonomy do not truly believe in the ideal. Violations of it permeate our society to its very core, but in most cases, they receive little to no attention.
Once again, Denver, Colorado is at the heart of the U.S. drug debate. Instead of marijuana, though, this time they are debating the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms. Initiative 301 is on the ballot, and if passed, psilocybin mushrooms would become Denver’s lowest law enforcement priority. This wouldn’t exactly legalize shrooms though.