What is arguably the most influential and respected newspaper in the United States is ready to free the weed. In a Sunday editorial, the New York Times called forthrightly for the end of federal marijuana prohibition.
The Times's Editorial Board pondered whether to maintain federal prohibition while allowing the states to experiment with legalization, but decided that was not the best option.
"We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these," the Times said. "But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law."
The social consequences of marijuana prohibition are "vast" and its result is "racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals," the Times said.
Meanwhile, "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."
Coming up with systems to regulate marijuana sales, production, and distribution is a "complex" task, "but 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 Times said.
Bottom line? "We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition."