The marijuana initiatives set to go before the voters this November in nine states could be the necessary push to get the next president and Congress to start dragging the nation out of prohibitionary times, according to an opinion published on Thursday by the New York Times Editorial Board.
Citing the latest Gallup poll, which shows a record breaking 60 percent of the United States population now supports the legalization of marijuana, the Times said the issue is entering “a big moment for what was a fringe movement a few years ago.”
“The drive to end prohibition comes after decades in which marijuana laws led to millions of people being arrested and tens of thousands sent to prison, a vast majority of whom never committed any violent crimes,” the board wrote. “These policies have had a particularly devastating effect on minority communities. Federal and state governments have spent untold billions of dollars on enforcement, money that could have been much better spent on mental health and substance abuse treatment.”
The Times goes on reference a recent study from the Cato Institute, which found there has been no increase in teenage marijuana consumption or any other negative outcome in the four states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Mostly importantly, the paper feels the almost imminent success of ballot measures in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada could give the people enough power to finally get Uncle Sam to unleash the cannabis culture after all of these decades.
“Passage of these proposals should increase pressure on the federal government to change how it treats marijuana,” the board predicted.
“States are driving the change in marijuana policy because they see the damage created by draconian drug laws on communities, families and state budgets,” the piece continues. “It’s time the federal government acknowledged these costs and got out of the way of states adopting more rational laws.”
This is not the first time the New York Times has come out in support of marijuana legalization.
In 2014, the Times Editorial Board published a week-long series entitled "High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization,” starting with the highly praised “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” which called for the federal government to put an end to the war on marijuana.
“It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished,” the board wrote. “It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol."
“The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana,” the piece continued. “ We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws."
Interestingly, the White House responded to the board’s call for marijuana legalization by saying that weed should remain illegal in the interest of health and public safety.