The New York Times unveiled in the Sunday Review today the first editorial in a series emphatically encouraging the legalization of marijuana in America.
After Times columnist Maureen Dowd briefly dabbled (but not dabbed) with newly legal weed in Denver, the storied institution seems to have gotten a whiff of that sweet green, coming out fiercely in defense of legalizing the drug.
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The headline is simple enough:
Repeal Prohibition, Again
We are right with you. The editorial board's opening article, the first in what is being called an "Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization," begins with its apt comparison to prohibition and goes on from there:
It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
As a treat for lovers of behind-the-scenes content, editorial board member Andrew Rosenthal explained in a blog post titled "Some Background on Our 'High Time' Series" what influenced the decision to focus so much attention on weed legalization:
But we believe that this is a big issue for the country — not because we think everyone should be smoking pot, but because while you were reading this blog post, there's a good chance that, somewhere in the country, a young man — probably an African-American man — was arrested on a marijuana violation. Even if he is spared a prison term, that arrest is likely to severely harm, if not ruin, his life.
The Times editorial notes that they are advocating legalization of weed for anyone above the age of 21, due to potential damage to adolescent brains, but notes that "moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults." The editorial explains the potential social rewards of legalization:
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.
This series will continue in the Times in the coming weeks, the board says, and questions, comments, and ideas are currently being accepted for your imagination of America's Weed Future.