Last winter, within days of the Supreme Court’s decision to hear… Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationan abortion case that could hinder access to reproductive care, the Food and Drug Administration announced that abortion drugs would be available by mail, without a face-to-face visit from a doctor.
The move was heralded as a solution to the prospect of reduced access, although states are already preparing to curtail these pills as well. However, the news also highlighted how drugs could play a more important role in society, intersecting politics and personal health and choice in surprising new ways.
The March issue of the Highlight is inspired by exactly this idea. With each of its stories, it asks, “Are drugs the answer?”
We’re not just looking at the telehealth start-ups aiming to provide pregnant people with abortion medications under increasingly draconian state laws, but also the relatively newly accessible Covid-19 antivirals and the role they will have to play. in the future of the pandemic, if the government can bring them to the people who need them most. Paxlovid and molnupiravir, the two therapeutic antivirals, have shown different but promising levels of effectiveness in reducing the dangers of Covid-19. So, what role could these therapies play in spelling the end of the pandemic? Could they partner with vaccines, or maybe be an option for those who don’t want to take the vaccine or don’t have access to it?
We are also exploring the trend towards wider adoption of once illegal drugs such as psilocybin (also called mushrooms), LSD and cannabis in the wellness sphere. They’re being marketed in increasingly innocuous ways, from gummies to chocolates to tiny mints, at just a few milligrams per dose, with some touting their ability to tackle everything from alcohol addiction to depression.
Finally, our cover story addresses a question that has been bubbling among lawyers, lawmakers, and activists for years: Why can’t the US come up with a federal policy to legalize marijuana? Several years after the great experiment of states to legalize and regulate cannabis, we know this: the tax windfall can be huge; it could quickly reverse the criminalization of brown and black Americans that continued under the drug war; and it would open doors for medical research, among many other benefits. Bipartisan support for federal legalization also suggests that drugs, in the case of cannabis in particular, could be the answer. However, overseeing a previously unregulated industry under national cannabis policy is laced with more inequality and tension than it seems.
Keep reading for more:
It’s not too late for new Covid-19 drugs to change the pandemic
The new, easy-to-take antivirals are now on pharmacy shelves. This is who they can help the most.
By Katherine Harmon Courage
The FDA made mail order abortion pills legal. Access is still a nightmare. (Coming Tuesday)
Restrictive states have already set their sights on a new wave of telehealth companies that were supposed to be a panacea for a post-Roe world.
By Julia Craven
The new sober-ish (Next Wednesday)
Small doses of magic mushrooms, LSD and cannabis have hit wellness culture, while the stigma surrounding the drugs is disappearing.
By Luke Winkie
Why can’t we come up with a federal policy to legalize marijuana? †Next Thursday)
Public opinion, lawmakers and states agree that it may be time to legalize cannabis. So, how hard is it to finally get it done?
By Mary Jane Gibson