The latest news finds The New York Times standing strong behind the fight for marijuana legalization. Possibly the most well-respected newspaper in the nation, The New York Times has just ended a six-part, interactive editorial series in which their support of decriminalizing marijuana is examined, and readers were encouraged to comment to demonstrate their stance. This is a momentous movement for the generally conservative publication. Times’ editorial board weighed the pros and cons of marijuana use and agreed that although there are concerns, all-in-all, the substance is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. The board believes the sale of marijuana should be legal for those over 21 years of age to deter use by minors.
Comments from the readers mostly reiterated the views of the editorial board-reasons such as marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol, and the fact that incarceration for using marijuana was far more detrimental than the actual drug itself. However, some readers had interesting personal experiences to share, such as Justine, a nurse from Oregon:
“I have yet to see one patient come through our doors suffering the long-term consequence of pot use. Not one. Alcohol? I can’t even begin to count. And when they do, it is very ugly. Patients in the E.R. because someone smoked a couple of joints and got violent? Not so much.”
Some readers support marijuana legalization for libertarian reasons-one reader objects to the government deeming what is “dangerous” and therefore cannot be used. He goes on to list dangerous activities that are not illegal that are more likely to cause irreparable harm, such as sky-diving, hunting, and the scores of unnatural foods that we consume. Some readers suggest that legalizing marijuana would take power away from drug cartels and gangs that currently profit from selling it. They suggest taxing marijuana sales as a way to repair some of the nation’s fiscal problems.
There were, of course, some readers who were not pleased with the Times’ standpoint. A few readers were shocked and disappointed that the publication would support such a reckless view. Many of these comments came from readers with an extremist view of outlawing everything-even alcohol and tobacco. However, the majority of comments from readers showed that they agreed with the editorial board in their support for marijuana legalization.
The New York Times based their decision to back legalization of marijuana after prolonged discussion and observation of the recent experiences in Colorado since legalization. The fact that there have not been any extreme problems in Colorado caused by legalization supports their view. In fact, a recent article from The Washington Post states that highway fatalities are at an all-time low in the state of Colorado since marijuana legalization. The fact that road accidents are decreasing in Colorado proves that legalization of marijuana did not result in “drugged driver” destruction on the roadways that many anticipated.
The New York Times’ support of legalizing marijuana is significant. Their endorsement could be the beginning of support surfacing from other surprising areas-politicians, organizations, and other conservative publications. Their support, and the agreement of their readers, shows that this is a topic that affects people in all walks of life.