An end to prohibition

The CN&R has long championed marijuana legalization at the federal level, and now The New York Times agrees

Readers who have been with us for a long time know that, from the CN&R’s inception in 1977, we have decried the modern prohibition against marijuana and argued for the its legalization. We’ve consistently asked: What is worse, smoking pot or getting busted, thrown in jail and saddled with a criminal record for doing so? The answer seems obvious, and yet in 2012 more than 658,000 people were arrested nationwide for marijuana possession.

In the 37 years of the CN&R’s existence, we’ve watched as state after state has come to the realization that pot is simply not harmful enough to warrant turning people over to the criminal-justice system, with all that entails. That’s why nearly three-quarters of the states have legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized pot or legalized it for recreational use.

In all of those states, however, marijuana users still must contend with a federal law, the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic and mandates harsh penalties for its use, sale or cultivation. The Obama administration has said it will respect state laws as long as certain conditions are met, but who’s to say it won’t change its mind—as happened here in California three years ago, when several U.S. attorneys unilaterally decided to get tough on medical-marijuana dispensaries that were legal under California law?

When three-quarters of the states are in open rebellion against a federal law, it’s time to reconsider that law. Thus we were pleased to see that The New York Times finally has agreed, in a July 27 editorial titled “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” that the federal law should be repealed and that marijuana regulation should be left up to the states.

If you agree, please contact your representatives in Congress and let them know you favor an end to prohibition. History is on your side.