The New York Times Endorses Oregon's Marijuana Legalization Initiative


The New York Times, the most authoritative newspaper in the United States, on Sunday endorsed Oregon's Measure 91, which would regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

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"Decades of arresting people for buying, selling and using marijuana have hurt more than helped society," the editorial board wrote, "and minority communities have been disproportionately affected by the harsh criminal penalties of prohibition." With Oregon's Measure 91, "legalization will not be a big change. As The Oregonian editorialized in August, the measure would 'be worth supporting for reasons of honesty and convenience alone.'"

Oregon ballot measures rarely win endorsements as high-profile as The New York Times, but Measure 91 has also won endorsements from Oregon's two largest newspapers -- The Oregonian in Portland, and The Register Guard in Eugene -- as well as from smaller news organizations, such as The East Oregonian in Pendleton.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director for the Drug Policy Alliance, has called Oregon's Measure 91 "the new gold standard" of marijuana reform laws and "the No. 1 priority" for the marijuana reform movement. Oregon is the largest state in the lower 48 where a measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana is on the ballot.

Alaska and the District of Columbia also have marijuana regulation measures on the ballot that won the endorsement of the most authoritative newspaper in the United States. "[T]here are some differences in their proposed initiatives, but they are all worthy of passage," the editorial board said.

More info: Two retired citizens groups, the City Club of Portland, several unions and several racial justice groups have also joined Measure 91's growing list of endorsing organizations. Individual endorsers include Richard Harris, the retired Director of Oregon Addiction and Mental Health Services; Richard W. Riggs, the retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice; and Kris Olson, the retired Chief Federal Prosecutor for Oregon.

What's next: Starting Wednesday, travel guru Rick Steves is launching a 6-day, 10-city tour called "Travel as a Political Act: Ending marijuana prohibition in Oregon."

What else is news: The Measure 91 campaign last week officially launched its $2 million plus advertising blitz, debuting a veteran law enforcement officer in the first prime time TV spot.