High Time Someone Said Something: NYT Calls on Federal Government to Repeal Pot Ban

In an editorial over the weekend, The New York Times editorial board called on the federal government to repeal the ban on pot, citing that in the “more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana,” the ban has inflicted “great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.”

The NY Times editorial board noted that they reached the conclusion that the federal government should repeal the ban, “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 editorial states, “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. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

Almost “three-quarters of the states” have either legalized medicinal marijuana, reduced penalties, or legalized use. Without a repeal of the federal ban, citizens remain “vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.” This creates a perilous balance for society as a whole, as the NY Times notes:

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.

Citing the “honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana,” the editorial board says they “believe that 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.

Noting “legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains,” the editorial board says they “advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.” They go on to point out that “creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex,” however, “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 NY Times editorial board plans to publish more articles in the coming days, written by  members of the editorial board, as well as “supplementary material” to examine the questions raised by their call for repeal of the federal ban. They state that they “recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues,” yet they believe “it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.”

I agree with the NY Times editorial board that is high time to repeal the federal ban. We do those who use marijuana for medical purposes a great disservice in continuing the ban. There is irrefutable evidence and has been for sometime that the medical uses of pot has widespread benefits for a variety of uses. Add to that the fact that marijuana is, as the editorial board has noted, far less dangerous than alcohol. Alcoholism is one of the top causes of death in America.

It is time to give the citizens of our country the ability to make their own choices with pot use.

There is more on the NY Times decision to call for a federal repeal of the marijuana ban and their decision to publish a “High Times” series here.

Go to NY State Page
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