Year after year, the Supreme Court persisted in completely ignoring the real-life, when confronted with a drug policy issue. Of course, I can't back it up in one post, but - I reviewed dozens of Supreme Court opinions that relate to drug policy and that's the impression that I got. Either Justices preferred to hide their heads in the sand and confine their discussions to arcane legal issues or they professed the same ignorance about the subject matter as, alas, so many Americans - ignorance that is the product of decades of misinformation. However, in Morse v. Frederick (2007), a.k.a. the âBONG HiTS 4 JESUSâ case, Justice Stevens, in his dissent, delivered the most remarkable quote, that, a few years ago, would have been virtually impossible to hear from someone that high up in the Establishment:
Reaching back still further, the current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our antimarijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs. The ensuing change in public opinion occurred much more slowly than the relatively rapid shift in Americansâ views on the Vietnam War, and progressed on a state-by-state basis over a period of many years. But just as prohibition in the 1920âs and early 1930âs was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies, today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs. Surely our national experience with alcohol should make us wary of dampening speech suggesting â however inarticulately â that it would be better to tax and regulate marijuana than to persevere in a futile effort to ban its use entirely.Lets see whether we see this kind of talk make its way into the Courtâs majority opinions.
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