The New York Times has recently released an article endorsing marijuana legalization, which they then followed with a series of pro-marijuana reform articles. The New York Times also accepted and published an advertisement for a popular marijuana company. Those are great things. However, it’s kind of bittersweet considering that the New York Times drug tests its employees for marijuana, despite their expressed support to end marijuana prohibition.
Former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller recently participated in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ in which the Marijuana Majority asked him how he felt about the discrepancy in the New York Times endorsement and drug testing policy. Below is the question asked, as well as Mr. Keller’s response:
“Would you consider signing the petition asking them to match their great new editorial position on the need to stop government discrimination against people who use marijuana with a better internal H.R. policy that doesn’t discriminate against people who use marijuana?” the Marijuana Majority asked, referring to their Change.org petition which has, thus far, garnered 4,700 of the desired 5,000 signatures.
“I make a policy of not second-guessing my former colleagues in public, but I agree (and expect a lot of people at the NYT do, too) that the inconsistency is increasingly difficult to defend,” Keller replied.
The New York Times’ drug testing policy is ridiculous. Just because someone tests positive for marijuana doesn’t mean that they were under the influence at work. If someone does something harmful at work, and they are then drug tested, that’s one thing. But to arbitrarily test everyone is a bad policy. Hire journalists based upon their skills, not based upon the purity of their urine.
If the New York Times truly supports marijuana legalization, than they will update their policy. Every dollar that they spend on drug testing for marijuana is potentially a dollar that goes to a drug testing company that is fighting very hard to keep prohibition in place to protect its profits. I hope more and more people put pressure on the New York Times, and I hope that every time a media outlet covers their endorsement of legalization that there is someone there to call them out for being hypocrites.