Given The New York Times editorial board’s recent writings on marijuana legalization (see here, here and here), we shouldn’t be too surprised at their Oct. 5 editorial, which endorses the pro-recreational cannabis reform measures heading to November ballot boxes in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.
While we’re not surprised, the Times’ pro-reform stance is still taking some getting used to — and a blanket editorial wrapping together three very different measures is a big deal.
In “Yes to Marijuana Ballot Measures: Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia Should Legalize Pot,” the Times points to the sweeping passage of medical marijuana laws throughout the U.S. and relates it to the future of recreational pot.
The decision by California voters in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana produced a wave of similar initiatives around the country. Less than two decades later, over half the states allow at least limited medical use. Now it looks as though recreational use of the drug may follow the same path.
The Times again says marijuana is “far less dangerous than alcohol” as it briefly breaks down the individual differences between Oregon’s Measure 91, Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 and D.C.’s Initiative 71.
Opponents of legalization warn that states are embarking on a risky experiment. But the sky over Colorado has not fallen, and prohibition has proved to be a complete failure. It’s time to bring the marijuana market out into the open and end the injustice of arrests and convictions that have devastated communities.
The editorial closes with a number of bold declarations that cheer on other states thinking about marijuana reform.
Ideally, the federal government would repeal the ban on marijuana, so states could set their own policies without worrying about the possibility of a crackdown on citizens violating federal law. Even though a majority of Americans favor legalization, Congress shows no sign of budging. So it’s better for the states to take the lead than to wait for an epiphany on Capitol Hill that may never come.