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Activists React To New York Times Endorsing Marijuana Legalization


new york times washington post marijuanaThe New York Times endorsed national marijuana legalization over the weekend. Just about every organization sent me something to post, so I figured I’d put them all in one article. Below are reactions by leading activist organizations and campaigns:

New Approach Oregon

The New York Times editorial board today endorsed marijuana regulation and launched a 6-part series about the need for sensible drug policies.

In fewer than 100 days, Oregonians will vote on marijuana regulation. New Approach Oregon, the campaign working to pass the “Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act,” released the following statement in response to the New York Times editorials.

“The endorsement of marijuana regulation from the nation’s most authoritative news source shows that we are on the right side of history,” said Anthony Johnson, New Approach Oregon’s chief petitioner. “It adds to our momentum and reflects the fact that a growing majority of Oregonians and Americans believe that treating marijuana use as a crime has failed. We are going to fight for every vote as we make the case that it is time to win more sensible drug policies in the Beaver State.”

Oregon’s measure to regulate, tax, and legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older qualified for the ballot last week.


The Drug Policy Alliance

The New York Times editorial board made history today by calling for an end to marijuana prohibition. The paper of record broke new ground by calling for the federal government to end the ban on marijuana.

The forceful editorial linked marijuana prohibition to the failed alcohol prohibition policy of the 1930’s, and said marijuana is a less dangerous substance than alcohol.

The Times cited mass marijuana arrests and racist marijuana law enforcement as further provocation for the paper’s position on this issue: “The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.”

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance commented on the groundbreaking editorial:

“This is of historic consequence – far bigger than most people assume. Some people in the country may perceive the Times editorial page as a liberal organ, but they should know that on this issue they’ve been cautious to a fault, even conservative, said Nadelmann.  ”So for them to write what they did, at this juncture, demonstrated intellectual and moral clarity as well as courage.”



Tomorrow’s Sunday New York Times’ editorial calling for an end to cannabis prohibition in America, affirms in my mind, after nearly twenty four years publicly advocating for cannabis law reforms at NORML, the end of cannabis prohibition in our nation is nearly upon the rest of the country (beyond Colorado and Washington State, where cannabis is taxed and regulated like alcohol products for responsible adult use). This is the same editorial board and opinions page that would with great frequency in the 1980s/90s publish some of the most stridently pro-cannabis prohibition editorials and columns found anywhere in the world, let alone from the urbane and ‘liberal’ New York Times, led by ardent cannabis foe, former editor and columnist A.M. Rosenthal.

Also included, informative editorial writing and excellent up-to-date map of all of the variations on cannabis law reform that have happened at the state level, putting evermore upward political pressure on the federal government to both end cannabis prohibition and severely down schedule the herbal drug.

Lastly, the dramatic change in Americans’ public attitude in favor of ending cannabis prohibition is well documented here.

A great sign of the times…the multidimensional pro-reform editorial ends with this nod to cannabis culture: On Monday at 4:20 p.m. Eastern Time, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, will be taking questions about marijuana legalization at facebook.com/nytimes.

Andrew Rosenthal…the son of A.M. Rosenthal.

Times in America regarding cannabis have changed, and, accordingly, so too has the New York Times.

By Phillip Smith

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 federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana,” the newspaper proclaimed. “We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.”The Times’s Editorial Board pondered whether to maintain federal pot 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.”

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Johnny Green


  1. Doc I am with you marijuana is not a gateway drug Vicodin is opiates are. Pharmacy made drugs are gate way drugs.
    We need to legalize marijuana and help people get support to get off of addicted drugs like Vicodin, like all opiates, like heroin, like crack, like cocane, special k, like bath salts and just like meth. Marijuana sales can help these people.

  2. Doc Deadhead on

    I don’t want to end the WAR ON DRUGS……just the WAR ON POT.

    They can keep their war on deadly, dangerous drugs that are killing people everyday around the world.

    I don’t want safe access to heroin,
    I don’t want safe access to meth,
    I don’t want safe access to cocaine,
    I certainly don’t want safe access to crack
    And I really don’t even want my children accessing alcohol(remember, it kills folks everyday)

    For some stupid reason the prohibitches all say the same response….”so what’s next, legalize heroin and cocaine”


  3. Let’s not sell them all short, so quickly. No doubt, they’re doing it for attention, but I wouldn’t presume to say they’re doing it *just* for attention. The NYT is made up of people, like everything else is, all of whom likely have their personal reasons, many of which I’d like to believe are the right ones. It’s entirely likely there were members of the NYT editorial staff who *didn’t* want to come out in favor of legalization, at all, so it’s just as likely there were people on the Editorial Board with the best of intentions, as well.

    We’ve all been wronged by prohibition in one way or another, so it’s easy to be consumed by the “too little, too late” mentality. I simply don’t agree that the effort is not enough. They didn’t simply print a retraction or one, single article voicing support for legalization — the Editorial Board for the NYT has agreed to publish a series of pieces about the virtues of cannabis and the harms of its prohibition. That’s *huge*.

    And it doesn’t necessarily preclude retractions within this forthcoming series — I would be surprised if one or two writers don’t serve the paper some humble pie for the sake of historical accuracy. I also hope they go all-in with this, but they’ve only just anted up. We ought to wait and see how it plays out before we criticize their actions.

    As for Rand Paul, I’m with him on the drug war and most foreign policy ideas, but he and I don’t agree on women’s reproductive rights at all, which I categorically believe is more important, so I am not selling him, either.

    Sorry to get up on this soapbox, but were he to run on a platform of repealing cannabis prohibition AND overturning Roe v. Wade, he would not have my vote. If he thinks the government ought not have the right to tell me what I can and cannot put into my own body, I believe it’s consistent to say the government ought not have jurisdiction over a woman’s uterus, either. I do not acknowledge deliberately vague definitions of “personhood” that reduce women to incubation chambers by order of the state. Nor do I pretend the argument is about anything other than social conservatives wanting to punish women for having sex — many of the exact same arguments were (are) made by the exact same people against contraception. I’ll get off my soapbox, now.

  4. Guess Hadesty on

    I just wanted to point out the fact that they were doing it for attention, and I am hoping the rest of their articles in this piece address their past attempt at turning the general public against cannabis from the beginning. I admit it is refreshing to see a once opponent become a proponent to cannabis legalization, but if they are going to do it they should go the entire way. Admit their past follies, and start dismissing the fact that one may come up positive for cannabis during a pre-employment drug screening. At least in Rand Paul’s situation we are not seeing someone who was dead set against cannabis at one time and now publicly acting in favor of it’s legalization (Not trying to sell Paul, just pointing it out). The Times, thus far, is disregarding their past destructive actions that attributed to the enforcement and legitimization of cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs in general.

  5. I suppose anyone who has asked the question,”who owns the media?” May have come up with various answers. But a quiet majority has good reason to believe that a certain small group owns most of the media in America. And that this media group is most likely headquartered in New York City, along with the most powerful banks, and wall street.

    I would say that when the Times says its time to end marijuana prohibition; if the opposition knows anything about how the world works, they should be quaking in their boots.

  6. I wouldn’t suggest that we should all, collectively, turn our backs and opt to ignore one of the most powerful media outlets that has ever existed simply because they haven’t retracted articles written over 70 years ago by people who are, most likely, no longer with us.

    Arguably, *anyone* or any given organization that gets behind us on this issue is doing so “for the attention.” You’re making a Kantian argument against them *helping* us, simply because you can see the NY Times benefiting from the effort. Yes, they’re going to get A LOT of attention. Yes, it’s probably going to increase their readership. Yes, the publicity is going to benefit the newspaper.

    No, I don’t care.

    Rand Paul is now actively batting for us, federally. Arguably, he’s doing so because he wants to be President. Arguably, any politician who comes to our side of the fence is doing so to keep/win office. We should be wary of intentions, of course — the most dangerous people come at you sideways with a smile, as always. But thumbing our nose at the New York Times because they finally decided to publicly support this issue is a truly bad idea.

    This is why Kant isn’t referenced heavily for SOUND ethics — his ethical theory can find the selfishness and greed in any act of kindness or integrity, so long as the person/thing doing the action benefits in *some* way. Under Kantian ethics, you can’t even feed the hungry if you feel the least bit good about it, afterwards — Kant says you used those starving people as a means to an end, which was feeling good about yourself.

  7. You can have your opinions about the NYT. But this is big because they are mainstream. Legalization is mainstream. This is like Sanjay Gupta, but better. It means prohibition is at its end.

  8. This whole prohibition, propaganda on weed is ridiculous. We all know why and who is behind all of this. To all of the politicians, pharmaceutical companies, alcohol, tobacco , etc.LET IT GO , WEED THE PEOPLE WILL NOT STOP USING THIS MAGICAL , SAFE , SACRED, HEALING PLANT.

  9. Guess Hadesty on

    This is so great to see the New York Times acting so tolerant, but that is all this is, is an act. An editor affirms they do not care if their employees use cannabis, and they do not ask, but as far as I am concerned that is only because their employees are required to go through pre-employment drug screening, and asking them after the fact would disqualify them from employment. Furthermore, why has the Times “come around” as they are claiming, but not retracting the stories from the 1930’s and 40’s which made claims that cannabis killed the very cows and horses that ate it? Let’s get real, this is nothing more than the New York Times jumping form one bandwagon to another. This is for nothing more than attention, and the New York Times should be seen for what they really are, rather than what they are publicly trying to make themselves.

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