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A Sign of the Times: The NYT Editorial Board on Marijuana Legalization

Categories: Drew Whitcup, ZiR

lf2Legalizing marijuana has been a popular and widely-discussed topic for some time now. That two states have now followed through with some initial success has only added to the growing chorus in favor of full legalization.

On Sunday, one very loud and influential voice joined that chorus: the New York Times Editorial Board. In a strongly-worded, unambiguous piece on the cover of the editorial page, the NYT board called for broad, federal legalization (accompanied by necessary regulation). The board wrote:

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

Critical to the board’s point is the unfair application of existing marijuana laws:

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

The Times’ influence is such that the federal government felt compelled to respond publicly. And yet, despite the administration’s continued firm stance, the second-most widely circulated newspaper in the nation has placed marijuana legalization squarely inside the sphere of legitimate discussion.

–Drew Whitcup, Zeteo Contributing Writer

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