Marijuana should be legalised, says the New York Times
Posted on July 27, 2014 | By Henry | Leave a response
Marijuana plants on display for sale at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles.
Washington: The New York Times has called for the legalisation of marijuana, comparing the federal ban on cannabis to Prohibition.
In an editorial on Saturday, the prestige publication said marijuana laws disproportionately impacting young black men and that addiction and dependence are “relatively minor problems” especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.
“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 newspaper said.
“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.”
Noting that the editorial board reached its conclusion after much discussion, The Times described the social costs of marijuana laws as “vast.”
Citing FBI figures showing there were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012 – far higher than for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives – it said “the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals”.
While advocating for a ban on marijuana sales to those under 21, because of “legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains,” the paper also said the “moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults”.
The influential newspaper said: “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 legalisation.”
The editorial, titled Repeal Prohibition, Again, kicks off a series of stories about the issue and invites readers to weigh in.
The call comes just weeks after recreational pot sales began in Washington, making the western US state just the second after Colorado to allow people to buy marijuana with no medical requirement.
Also earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making New York the 23rd state to legalise marijuana for medical use.
Harsh anti-drug laws have a long history in the US, with the presidential administration of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan pushing for aggressive prosecution and stiffer sentencing.
The reconsideration of drug laws comes as debts have forced US states to consider the high cost of incarceration for non-violent criminals, as well as how evenly drug sentences have been applied across different racial groups and income levels.
AFP, New York Times, Fairfax