Activists React To New York Times Endorsing Marijuana Legalization

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The New York Times endorsed national marijuana legalization over the weekend. Just about every organization sent me something to post, so I figured I'd put them all in one article. Below are reactions by leading activist organizations and campaigns:

new york times washington post marijuana

New Approach Oregon

The New York Times editorial board today endorsed marijuana regulation and launched a 6-part series about the need for sensible drug policies.

In fewer than 100 days, Oregonians will vote on marijuana regulation. New Approach Oregon, the campaign working to pass the "Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act," released the following statement in response to the New York Times editorials.

"The endorsement of marijuana regulation from the nation's most authoritative news source shows that we are on the right side of history," said Anthony Johnson, New Approach Oregon's chief petitioner. "It adds to our momentum and reflects the fact that a growing majority of Oregonians and Americans believe that treating marijuana use as a crime has failed. We are going to fight for every vote as we make the case that it is time to win more sensible drug policies in the Beaver State."

Oregon's measure to regulate, tax, and legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older qualified for the ballot last week.

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The Drug Policy Alliance

The New York Times editorial board made history today by calling for an end to marijuana prohibition. The paper of record broke new ground by calling for the federal government to end the ban on marijuana.

The forceful editorial linked marijuana prohibition to the failed alcohol prohibition policy of the 1930's, and said marijuana is a less dangerous substance than alcohol.

The Times cited mass marijuana arrests and racist marijuana law enforcement as further provocation for the paper's position on this issue: "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."

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance commented on the groundbreaking editorial:

"This is of historic consequence - far bigger than most people assume. Some people in the country may perceive the Times editorial page as a liberal organ, but they should know that on this issue they've been cautious to a fault, even conservative, said Nadelmann.  "So for them to write what they did, at this juncture, demonstrated intellectual and moral clarity as well as courage."

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NORML

Tomorrow's Sunday New York Times' editorial calling for an end to cannabis prohibition in America, affirms in my mind, after nearly twenty four years publicly advocating for cannabis law reforms at NORML, the end of cannabis prohibition in our nation is nearly upon the rest of the country (beyond Colorado and Washington State, where cannabis is taxed and regulated like alcohol products for responsible adult use). This is the same editorial board and opinions page that would with great frequency in the 1980s/90s publish some of the most stridently pro-cannabis prohibition editorials and columns found anywhere in the world, let alone from the urbane and 'liberal' New York Times, led by ardent cannabis foe, former editor and columnist A.M. Rosenthal.

Also included, informative editorial writing and excellent up-to-date map of all of the variations on cannabis law reform that have happened at the state level, putting evermore upward political pressure on the federal government to both end cannabis prohibition and severely down schedule the herbal drug.

Lastly, the dramatic change in Americans' public attitude in favor of ending cannabis prohibition is well documented here.

A great sign of the times...the multidimensional pro-reform editorial ends with this nod to cannabis culture: On Monday at 4:20 p.m. Eastern Time, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, will be taking questions about marijuana legalization at facebook.com/nytimes.

Andrew Rosenthal...the son of A.M. Rosenthal.

Times in America regarding cannabis have changed, and, accordingly, so too has the New York Times.
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By Phillip Smith

What is arguably the most influential and respected newspaper in the United States is ready to free the weed. In a Sunday editorial, the New York Times called forthrightly for the end of federal marijuana prohibition.

"The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana," the newspaper proclaimed. "We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times's Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws."The Times's Editorial Board pondered whether to maintain federal pot prohibition while allowing the states to experiment with legalization, but decided that was not the best option.

"We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these," the Times said. "But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law."

The social consequences of marijuana prohibition are "vast" and its result is "racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals," the Times said.

Meanwhile, "the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the 'Reefer Madness' images of murder, rape and suicide."

Coming up with systems to regulate marijuana sales, production, and distribution is a "complex" task, "but those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime," the Times said.

Bottom line? "We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition."

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