A Century Later, The New York Times Rejects the Anti-Pot Propaganda It Peddled


The New York Times

On Sunday The New York Times officially turned against marijuana prohibition, and this week it has followed up on that historic editorial with a series of essays on various aspects of the issue. Tuesday's installment, headlined "The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia," accurately describes the irrational origins of that policy. But as I point out in my latest Forbes column, the Times conspicuously overlooks its own role in disseminating the propaganda underlying the war on marijuana. Here is how the column begins:

According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of American adults support marijuana legalization. That's around 130 million people. It turns out that some of them are members of the New York Times editorial board, which on Sunday declared that "the federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

Given its timing, the paper's endorsement of legalization is more an indicator of public opinion than a brave stand aimed at changing it. Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor at the Timestold MSNBC's Chris Hayes that the new position was not controversial among the paper's 18 editorial writers and that when he raised the subject with the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, "He said, 'Fine.' I think he'd probably been there before I was. I think I was there before we did it." Better late than never, I guess, although I confess that seeing a New York Times editorial in favor of legalizing marijuana briefly made me wonder if I've been wrong about the issue all these years.

In their gratitude for the belated support of a venerable journalistic institution, antiprohibitionists should not overlook the extent to which the Times has aided and abetted the war on marijuana over the years. That shameful history provides a window on the origins of this bizarre crusade and a lesson in the hazards of failing to question authority.

Read the whole thing.


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  1. I had the misfortune of inadvertently stopping on a radio channel profferring Michael Savage’s bleatings yesterday, in which he informed me that he does NOT support legalization because “addiction, reduction in IQ and teh stupider”. Or something.

    Everything I’ve ever heard or read suggests that MJ is NOT addictive, and have seen nothing that suggests it “reduces” IQ nor is as bad (much less worse) medically than cigarettes.

    So – I chalked it up to Savage being a fuckig idiot and went on. Oh, and his repeated citation was a CNN article from some doctor. So…pretty unimpeachable.

    The derp – it burns. LEGALIZE IT. Or, should I say, decriminalize it.

    1. Legalize it. Allow it to be freely bought and sold.

      Decriminalization means users get tickets, while dealers are still sent to prison.

      1. I’m never clear on that.

        “Don’t make it illegal” is what I’m looking for.

        You’re right – LEGALIZE IT.

        Peter Tosh, I and I, Haile Selassie! Jah! Rastafari!

        1. Think of it this way. When something is criminal it involves possible jail time. Decriminalization means possession goes from a criminal offense to a civil offense. So instead of putting people in jail, they make them pay fines and go to classes.

          1. Yep – got it.

    2. I find Savage to be entertaining, but on most matters he is an idiot. An entertaining idiot, but still and idiot.

      1. I don’t find him at all entertaining. But his show did replace Sean Hannity, whom I simply cannot listen to, so it’s less bad.

        1. At least Savage is sometimes clever. Hannity is just incredibly, unbelievably dimwitted.

          However, I haven’t listened to any sort of talk radio since I got my first IPod. Podcasts are much more interesting and intelligent, and have no commercials.

    3. Even if MJ lowers a person’s IQ, why is that any of Savage’s business?

      1. Because Savage is an asshole.

      2. Wouldn’t he have more listeners then.

      3. Yep – I was thinking that the whole time I subjected myself to his idiocy.

        “Even if everything you’re saying is true – and I don’t think it is – isn’t that for people to decide for themselves? Can’t we keep the gummint out of it?”

        Guess not from Savage’s perspective. What a blithering idiot.

    4. One would think Dr. Savage, who possesses degrees in fucking medical botany, medical anthropology, and nutritional ethnomedicine would be more well-read on the neurological effects of C. sativa and C. indica, and not have to rely upon the piss-poor science journalism of the mass media to argue his case.

      Unless, of course, he is equating “intelligence” with “spiritual wisdom” and is in the pocket of Big Ayahuasca.

      1. I don’t believe any of these people believe anything they say, they know their audience and what sells. They are used car salesmen.

        1. I disagree. To be consistent they must be somewhat truthful. If they were that talented at lying they’d be in politics, not radio.

      2. Oh, PS – re the degrees – the ONE fascinating show I heard was when he was on late night, and he talked about all this research and books he wrote on genetics. It was amazing!

        And his show has/had NOTHING to do with any of that kind of thing.

        “CNN article….Dcotor Feelgood….therefore, we should keep pot illegal.”

        tha fuck?

      3. He thinks his expertise on the subject gives him more authority in the statement. I’m sure he’s not alone in his opinion among those with similar experience & training, and that he is well read on the subject where he doesn’t have more direct experience. It’s not like you’ll ever get unanimity on the value of particular galenicals or their components.

      4. One would think Dr. Savage…

        There is only one Doc Savage. And it sure as hell ain’t some radio talking guy!

    5. Rate from worst to least terrible: Sean Hannity, Michael Savage or Mike Levine

      1. Never listened to Levine. Can’t stand Hannity. His voice makes me want to jam chopsticks into my ears. Savage is entertaining. Boortz and Doyle are good. Howie Carr is good, but he’s local to New England.

      2. Mark Levin I’ve tuned out and then back in. Listening to him now, esp because of his new book proposing new amendments. I like the arguments, find them interesting and rational, and I think HE’S funny. #1 of these three.

        Savage is a way-distant second – all he talks about is himself, and he’s utterly incoherent. No flow at all, no consistent train of thought. He’s all over the place.

        Hannity I cannot STAND to listen to and literally turn him off. As sarc notes, can’t stand even his voice any more. He and Obama are tied for #1 in Almanian’s “SHUT IT OFF OR TURN THE CHANNEL – THEY’RE ON”.

        1. Oh, MARK LEVIN. Now I know. Yes, he’s OK. Probably has the best content of the three, but his voice is too whiny for me.

          I used to listen to Michael Smerconish before he switched to satellite radio. He has half a brain, at least, although he’s a power-worshiping statist.

      3. In terms of listenability, I agree that Hannity is the worst. His voice is pure torture.

        Savage is an idiot, he has a cranky New Yawk alte kaker thing that I find entertaining in moderate doses.

        I think I’ve listened to Levine, but I can’t remember anything about the experience.

      4. Hannity’s just plain unoriginal & boring. Levin is somewhat entertaining & engaging, but not a great deal content-wise.

        Savage repelled me strongly at 1st (starting years ago when he was carried on the same station that originated a fairly decent libertarian commenter whose name I forgot; she was a retired teacher, had a regional show in New England, and died of a smoking-related cancer), but he grew on me. I still don’t listen to him often because of other choices & things to do, but he’s by far the most interesting of those mentioned. I guess I also relate to him as a scientist. I and many other observers liken his style to that of Jean P. Shepherd, whom he claims never to have heard.

    6. Since “addiction” is a slippery concept, I don’t discount anything said on the subject?which means I discount everything said on the subject. Can’t say anything is true or false about it.

  2. It only took Reason Magazine a couple of years to reverse its full-throated support of candidate Barack Obama. (Give or take a few facts.)

    1. I’m having trouble determining whether this is just a badly failed joke or a deliberately retarded misconstrual.

    2. By full-throated you mean deep-throated, right?

  3. Better late than never.

    /NYT editor

  4. If only there were a way to support legalization for the right kind of people and continued criminalization for the wrong kind.

    1. I wish that were an over-the-top joke, but I think this may well approach the worldview of some of these folks.

      1. Oncest upon a time, we had a police force that had no problem with busting mayors found in speakeasies and a media who delighted in printing photos of the powerful being frogmarched out of such places.

        They learned their lesson from Prohibition: bust the minorities, leave the suburbs alone, do whatever you want.

        The only real reason Prohibition 2.0 is looking like it’s fixing to end is because cops got greedy and started using asset forfeiture on people who actually had decent assets (as well as enough cultural capital to defend themselves in court).

        Luckily for the drug warriors, Colorado’s legalization is still messy enough that there remains a void being filled by the black market that services those folks who aren’t inclined to get a medicinal card nor hand their driver’s license to a recreational shopkeep.

    2. Someone just needs to invent a “crack” form of MJ.

      1. It’d be an edible that says “contains 16 servings” in a typeface that is just a little too small.

        “Why, I’d like to eat this entire brownie!”

  5. I wonder why all the sudden the Times is taking this position. Is this somehow going to be an issue in the midterms? I can’t think it would benefit any Democratic candidates in any meaningful way, even if they were good on marijuana.

    1. To prevent Republicans from leapfrogging them.

  6. This is kind of a cheap shot. I mean, how many businesses that are 100+ years old said or did things a century ago that they wouldn’t today?

    1. The corporate media claims they are more thoughtful and thorough than the ignorant, peasant masses (bloggers and vloggers) and deserve special protections and privileges by law.

      It should be mentioned that even the noble court scribes occasionally fuck things up, whether by ignorance or malice.

  7. The NYT was responsibly reported the consensus of scientists: over 97% of doctors engaged in drug research agreed that marihuana posed overwhelming dangers of psychotic violence, miscegenation, addiction, mental illness, and social rot.

    The NYT understood that this was settled science, that further debate was unnecessary and counterproductive to society, and government had to forcefully address the dangers posed by marihuana with a strong prohibition. Sure, it might be interpreted as an usurpation of individual rights, but reefer madness was an inconvenient truth.

    Ever since the 1920s, experts in the war on drugs almost unanimously oppose legalization. These are the experts with frontline experience with consequences of marihuana addiction in the law enforcement, prison management, and drug treatment industries. It’s settled science!

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