New York Times Says: End Prohibition of Weed

By Shawn Dwyer 07/28/14

The Gray Lady has gone on record in throwing unequivocal support behind legalizing marijuana.

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In something of a surprising move, the editorial board for the New York Times—after much behind-the-scenes deliberation—went public with a call on Congress to end the prohibition on marijuana.

Titled Repeal Prohibition, Again, the editorial, which was published over the weekend, started with a recap of history by citing the 13 year folly of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, which did nothing to curb alcohol use while giving rise to organized crime.

So in one simple sentence, the Times made it clear what Congress should do in light of 40 years of bad pot policy: "The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

From there, the editors pointed to the rapidly changing laws at the state level over the last 10 or so years, while also underscoring the idea that there are no easy answers about what to do with marijuana use in society regardless of which side of the divide people fall on.

"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," the editors wrote. "That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs—at the state level."

The Times compared both the societal and medical costs of marijuana to other drugs, noting that over 658,000 people were arrested in 2012 for possession of weed, while just 256,000 were busted for harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. They also correctly pointed out that health and addiction concerns regarding pot use were minor in light of the devastation caused by alcohol or cigarettes.

They concluded their editorial with the grim recognition that the federal government won't do much about the issue, at least in the short term. "We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues," the board wrote. "But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition."

Given the Republican-led Congress' inability to pass anything into law, regardless of how pressing the need, it would be a miracle indeed if prohibition at the federal level were to end.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.