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Legalize marijuana at federal level, urge NYT editors

Published time: July 27, 2014 13:43
Edited time: July 27, 2014 14:48
Reuters / Jason Redmond

Reuters / Jason Redmond

Legalize marijuana now, or face the kind of chaos of the prohibition era in the US, says none other than The New York Times. The newspaper lays out concrete reasons why all-out legalization is the best move.

“There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use,” the NYT wrote in a very straightforward website editorial.

“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 legalization.”

The newspaper lashed out at the 40-year-old law, which criminalized the plant, and which the Times believes to be “racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, running their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.”

The Times believes that a relaxation in penalties and increased research into the beneficial effects of the plant, as has been happening in nearly three-quarters of states, could have been a precursor for Washington to do something as it waited for the results to come in. However, the board decided that this would leave the federal law in the hands of whoever is in government at the time.

And since, according to FBI statistics, over 650,000 arrests for marijuana alone took place since 2012 – and this was just for possession without intent to distribute - it was clear that the drug’s rather gentle effects were costing the tax payer a lot more than dangerous cocaine and heroin and their derivatives, for which there were only 256,000 combined arrests.

According to the Times, the statistic also tell a story of racial discrimination, which segments society and only leads to rising crime levels as whole populations are cut off from other means of existing within American society.

“There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that 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,” the Times continues.

And although there are noticeable and proven effects on the psyche and health of younger adults, the paper writes, it should not arouse the kind of dismissal that leaves society open to ludicrous claims linking the plant with rape, murder and other violence. However, prohibiting sales to adults under 21 would be a smart move, according to the editors.

But overall, the effects of the regulation, manufacture, sale and distribution of the drug by the state are viewed as highly beneficial.

“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,” the Times believes.

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