Two of the Largest American Newspapers Opine in Favor of Allowing States to Legalize Marijuana

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 26, 2012

    In the wake of the historic votes for marijuana law reform on November 6th, there has been a renewed focus on the topic and a shift in tone amongst the mainstream media. While previously, many outlets have either covered our efforts with a wink and a nod (or didn’t cover them at all), now that two states have called for the end of marijuana prohibition, reporters are rushing to cover the story. Along the way it seems they are also getting a crash course education in the concepts of civil liberties, federalism, and the disasters of our country’s prohibition on cannabis. Many are beginning to wake up to the reality that we have long identified: cannabis prohibition is a failed policy that has destructive effects on our society and these effects can be remedied by legalization and regulation.

    Look no further for a sign of the changing times than editorials featured this weekend by two of the United States’ largest newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Both papers featured columns from their staff opining in favor of marijuana law reform. It seems the days of traditionally conservative editorial boards writing against cannabis law reforms may be coming to an end.

    There is a seismic shift happening in the national consciousness on marijuana policy in response to the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, we are winning new converts by the day and those previously afraid to speak out are now doing so with passion and vigor. This recent influx of mainstream media outlets jumping on board with reform is just the beginning of the avalanche of change that is to come.

    The New York Times by Timothy Egan, NYT Opinion Writer:

    Give Pot a Chance

    For what stands between ending this absurd front in the dead-ender war on drugs and the status quo is the federal government. It could intervene, citing the supremacy of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

    But it shouldn’t. Social revolutions in a democracy, especially ones that begin with voters, should not be lightly dismissed. Forget all the lame jokes about Cheetos and Cheech and Chong. In the two-and-a-half weeks since a pair of progressive Western states sent a message that arresting 853,000 people a year for marijuana offenses is an insult to a country built on individual freedom, a whiff of positive, even monumental change is in the air.

    …there remains the big question of how President Obama will handle the cannabis spring. So far, he and Attorney General Eric Holder have been silent. I take that as a good sign, and certainly a departure from the hard-line position they took when California voters were considering legalization a few years ago.


    The Washington Post by Washington Post Editorial Board:

    Marijuana’s Foot in the Door

    …Or the Justice Department could keep its hands off, perhaps continuing the approach the feds have largely taken for some time — focusing scarce resources on major violators, such as big growers that might serve multi-state markets, cultivators using public lands or dispensaries near schools. The last option is clearly best.

    But it’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources. Unwise, because filling prisons with users, each given a criminal stain on his or her record, has long been irrational. For the latter reason, we favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up.

    Also, for that reason and others, the Justice Department should hold its fire on a lawsuit challenging Colorado and Washington’s decision to behave more leniently. And state officials involved in good-faith efforts to regulate marijuana production and distribution according to state laws should be explicitly excused from federal targeting.


    55 responses to “Two of the Largest American Newspapers Opine in Favor of Allowing States to Legalize Marijuana”

    1. WISEMAN says:

      it is much needed here in USA to keep billions of $$$$$ leaving the country and take it out of hands of gangs and drug lords ive smoked it 45yrs and have never had a problem health wise driving wise iv haad HEPC from tranfusion,on verge of liver cancer interferon isnt an option in my case as a child, and it is the only thing ive found that works on flu like symtoms and its also very good for many other ailment mental and physical thus a cheap treatment so should save medicare and medicaid billions ,i think our society is ready for this now with legal gay marriages and a society of reckless drink youths much safer for all ,GOD BLESS

    2. Diane Camlin says:

      Finally this country has seen the light of day!! There is a serious problem when tobacco & alcohol are legal drugs & cannabis remains illegal in our great country. The significant damage that alcohol causes both to the consumer & society is unparalleled to any other substance known. How many crimes, vehicular homicides, rapes, domestic violence issues, etc occur with alcohol use? When was the last time someone smoking a joint killed someone with their vehicle or caused a disturbance in public.
      Cannabis aids in sleep, reduction of nausea, reduction in pain, eye pressure, anxiety, manic symptoms, increases appetite in chemotherapy….these are only a few of the benefits. The only recognized side effects are drowsiness, increased appetite & euphoria. It has not been proven addictive or a “gateway” drug to harsher substances. That is not the case with tobacco & alcohol.

    3. fishcreekbob says:

      Make it legal already Come on Come on Make it legal Come on …
      Time to order seed.

    4. Judy says:

      Thank God people are starting to come around to understanding what many of us have already know, all too well, for many many years! It truly seems that marijuana prohibition just might end soon and that will be a day to celebrate with as much, or more, enthusiasm as we celebrate July 4th (Independence Day).

      For millions of us, when that day comes, it will be equally as important as that great day in American history. That will be the day Americans get a bit of their hard-earned freedoms returned to them.

    5. Galileo Galilei says:

      It’s a shame it took an economic collapse to force opining against the cruel, insane prohibition of marijuana. I’d like to see the ideologue zealots at the ONDCP replaced with folks competent to formulate science based policies. To me thwarting the advance of medical science as they’ve done with activities against medical marijuana is nothing short of a crime against humanity.

      I sure hope Obama and Holder have come across the statements of original drug war zealot, Harry J. Anslinger, who testified before Congress that the main reason for making marijuana illegal was its effect on the ‘degenerate races’. Just in case anyone has any doubt who he’s refering to, he went on to opine, ‘When a black man smokes marijuana, he thinks he’s just as good as a white man.’

    6. bb54 says:

      I really enjoyed to see two great newspapers of America in favor of marijuana legalization.
      Those are welcomed and precious allies in the war on drugs.However and I am sure most readers should agree on that,marijuana should only be legalized for what it is and nothing else.It should not be legalized because it was written in the newspapers that It ought to be or because it will help boost the economy eventhough it will,but it should be legalized because it does have true usefulness like therapeutic values,recreational values,etc,etc.

    7. TheOracle says:

      Keep the momentum going. We have not achieved critical mass. Keep dangling the money out in front of them.

      American exceptionalism will have to take precedent over international treaties prohibiting legalization. With legalization happening in the U.S. efforts need to be made to find a way for other countries who don’t have the exceptionalism clout internationally to opt out of the chains of cannabis prohibition by international treaty.

      Any thoughts on that? How many countries or which countries need to get together in the U.N. for W.H.O. and whoever the hell else internationally to get the hell out of the way? It’s a shit way to go not to change anything yet have no sanctions for countries that do legalize while simply ignoring the international prohibition. It’s shit to still have cannabis prohibition by international treaty and still in place and at the same time completely look the other way to legalization. Either one will work. It’s just that one is less hypocritical, less whatever.



      Pink Floyd

    8. Peter says:

      The Fed’s claim to it being a harmful drug got this response which i thought was not only true but very clever ;

      dnahatch1 wrote:

      11:50 AM PST

      Marijuana can be harmful? How, exactly? It’s never killed anyone, it’s not physically addictive, and there is no overdose level. The dangers of legal stimulants such as tobacco, alcohol, and painkillers are varied and well-known but on the subject of marijuana, the self-proclaimed authorities have proven nothing but feel their word is enough. New medical uses for marijuana are being found constantly but our corrupt leaders in Washington are paid well by DuPont and Big Pharma to deny all positive reports and stick to the 1930’s legend that marijuana causes insanity in anyone except wealthy college students.

    9. Doe says:

      No Chicago Times! Shame on you Chicago Sun Times!

      Legalize already, through out the entire country.