The United States federal government should repeal its ban on marijuana, according to the New York Times.
"It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished," the paper noted in an editorial running Sunday. "It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol."
In the piece titled "Repeal Prohibition, Again," the Times' editorial board said it was "inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws" as it reached its conclusion that the federal marijuana ban should be lifted.
Customers shop for marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, a retail marijuana store, on July 8, 2014 in Bellingham, Washington. Top Shelf Cannabis was the first retail marijuana store to open today in Washington state, nearly a year and a half after the state's voters chose to legalize marijuana. (Image source: David Ryder/Getty Images)
More from the Times:
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. 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. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
The Times cited what it said are high costs of enforcing marijuana laws: "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."
The paper also insisted that "the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."
More from the Times:
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. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
The Times added that because of the concerns of marijuana's effect on developing adolescent brains, sales should be prohibited to people under 21 years of age.
You can read the entire editorial here.