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Monday, July 28, 2014

New York Times Endorses Marijuana Legalization, Devotes A Week to Weed Coverage

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM

click image The stoned gray lady - HIGH TIMES/NEW YORK TIMES
  • High Times/New York Times
  • The stoned gray lady
The New York Times has come out swinging in support of marijuana legalization. 

Over the weekend, the nation's major newspaper of record published an editorial saying it was "High Time" to roll back the Nixon-era federal laws banning cannabis. In making its case, the paper's editorial board cited the drug's medical efficacy, the absurd federal classification of cannabis as dangerous as heroin and less useful than speed, and vastly changing public attitudes toward the plant.

Not enough for you? The Times all week will run a different signed editorial, beating the issue into hemp pulp. That's significant for weed, and unprecedented for the newspaper  which is now using turns of phrase once-reserved for legalization fanatics only. (This longtime Times reader cannot recall the paper embarking on such a full-on onslaught, since, well, never mind.)

About the only thing the Times didn't do was print on hemp paper that could double as a blunt wrap.

The special editorial in support of ending marijuana prohibition today is all about states' rights, noting that a federal ban is in direct conflict with state and local laws allowing some form of cannabis use. About 75 percent of Americans live in a state where some form of legal cannabis use is allowed, so eliminating the federal "prohibition" on pot in the Controlled Substances Act would only make sense.

That's another milestone: prohibition. Marijuana legalization backers have for years used that word to describe the nation's situation on weed, making the direct comparison to the United State' experiment with banning alcohol back in the day. Everybody knows Prohibition failed, so what's the logic in trying to prohibit marijuana use?

Let's stop and take stock for a second. One of the nation's biggest news organizations has so fully embraced marijuana legalization as to adopt language that was very recently fringe. 

Other outlets like the Los Angeles Times, which has been solidly and predictably anti-marijuana, are not likely to follow. But the Gray Lady is on weed, big time. This moment may be forgettable in a decade, when foreign tourists partake in cannabis cafes in Las Vegas. But for now, it's a bold step forward, and one without a lot of precedent. 

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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