Times Readers Make Cases for Marijuana
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Times Readers Make Cases for Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on August 05, 2014 at 20:01:35 PT
By Juliet Lapido
Source: New York Times
USA -- We learned something about New York Times online commenters recently: They are far, far more supportive of marijuana legalization than the average American.Over the last 10 days, The Times’s Editorial Board published a series calling for an end to the federal ban on marijuana. This stance, we realized, was hardly avant-garde. As we noted in an essay on public views, a majority of Americans now favor legalizing use of the drug. But this majority is not especially large: 54 percent to 42 percent, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest poll.
In the comments section of the High Time series, we asked readers to state their preference: for legalization, against it or unsure. Obviously, combing through Internet comments won’t yield results that are publishable in a scientific journal. Still, the lopsided response seems to indicate that Times readers — at least readers of the online edition — overwhelmingly believe that prohibition is pointless.As of Tuesday afternoon, roughly 15,000 comments were published online on seven editorials: 12,658 were for, 982 against, and 254 unsure. (Not everyone chose a category. And letters to the editor, by contrast, were far more mixed.)By and large, readers seem to support legalization for the same reasons the editorial writers do. They are convinced marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco and believe that the criminalization of marijuana is more likely to ruin lives than marijuana itself. Arrest and incarceration for possession of a relatively harmless substance is, to many readers, unacceptable.Mark Hanna of Virginia summed up the consensus view: “Like many wars, the war on drugs has caused too much carnage. Let’s responsibly legalize marijuana.”Kyle of Oklahoma made the same point in more detail: “No matter how bad you think marijuana is for kids, teens or adults, the fact is that arrest, incarceration, and the ruin they bring is worse. The question is not whether marijuana is ‘O.K.’ It is how [to] effectively deal with it. Illegality and moral censure are and should remain separate tools. ... I think many people are worried about losing control of their kids, but I don’t think a single one of them wants to see their kid locked up.”And Justine, a nurse in Portland, Ore., wrote from personal experience: “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.”Not surprisingly, commenters did advance arguments that the Editorial Board overlooked, or touched upon only in passing. Some, including Daniel of Alabama, supported legalization on ideological, libertarian grounds: “I reject the federal government’s right to decide what I put in my body. Even if it was ‘bad’ for you, so what? We don’t ban skydiving, driving in cars, hunting, professional backyard wrestling, traveling to 3rd world countries, sugary foods and beverages, standing outside during thunderstorms with a metal pole, swimming after eating, caffeine, ibuprofen, alcohol, cigarettes or prescription drugs, all of which are statistically more likely to harm you.”Other readers endorsed legalization as a way to reduce the power of drug cartels. Pedro, a reader in Mexico City, explained: “In Mexico, we have a bloody war against drugs. ... This prohibition has done [nothing] but destroy people by putting them in jail. Drug dealers killing each other for territory, etc. There are more cartels than there were when the prohibition started. This prohibition has only empowered drug dealers. I say let cannabis [be] free. Stop benefiting the cartels.”Instead of allowing gangs to profit from marijuana, some readers suggested that local governments could patch up their budgets by taxing the drug. “In this era of dwindling coffers,” wrote Kelli Dunaway of St. Louis, “it seems that the regulation, sale and taxation of marijuana offers some badly needed fiscal relief. In my state, that may be the only argument with any impact.”Although the vast majority of readers wrote in support of legalization, there was, of course, some dissent. There were readers who considered the series downright reckless and who questioned our priorities.Robert Jackson of Denver said “we need to put the needs of America’s youth ahead of the needs of people who want to get stoned.” He dismissed the notion that “pot is a safe and harmless drug” as the product of a “well-funded blitzkrieg propaganda campaign,” and called the argument that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana a “propaganda tactic of distraction.” Sam Coulter of New York was more blunt: “Arguing [marijuana] should be legal just because alcohol is legal is just plain stupid.”We expected some readers to make the slippery-slope case against legalizing marijuana, and they did. Keval Parekh of New Jersey wrote, sarcastically, “Sure, Democrats, let’s fully legalize marijuana. ... And while we’re at it, how about cocaine, meth, heroin and LSD.” But he also took a rather surprising position: He called on Republicans to “end their hypocritical stance on alcohol and tobacco. ... They should come out as against ALL types of drugs (including alcohol and tobacco)!”Mr. Parekh was not the only reader to recommend doubling-down on prohibition. Susan of Boston identified herself as “someone who thinks tobacco smoking should be outlawed.”Somehow we don’t anticipate “repeal the 21st amendment, ban tobacco” working as a slogan on the campaign trail; certainly any candidate who suggested blanket prohibition would lose The Times’s readership. In fact, many readers argued that legalization — rather than continued or broader prohibition — was the political winner. They noticed the near-unanimity in the comments section, and, perhaps getting a little carried away, imagined hope-and-change emanating from the White House.Chris of Virginia had some advice for President Obama: “He should use executive authority to legalize marijuana on a national level and let each state decide their own laws. This could be an opportunity for Pres. Obama to cement his legacy and give the nation what it clearly desires.”The president would, at least, be giving a majority of Times commenters what they clearly desire.A version of this editorial appears in print on August 6, 2014, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Times Readers Online Make Their Own Cases for Legalizing Marijuana . Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Juliet LapidoPublished: August 6, 2014Copyright: 2014 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:   -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on August 08, 2014 at 10:00:58 PT
I've held this so close to my heart for decades.
And finally, it's happening. It's really happening and right before our eyes. The roar. The crashing. The sliding, the terrible hissing and thundering is magnificent to behold.“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."Ta da!This prohibition was a terrible, huge, deadly and seemingly unshakable mountain of laws, fear, misbelief, and ungodly bureaucracy that was more formidable than just about anything going on on this earth. A "Juggernaut" we sometimes called it. Seemingly unstoppable. Impenetrable. But we kept hammering at it relentlessly. So many of us. It's happening and it's good. So good.It's shaking. It's trembling. It's falling. Hallelujah!
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Comment #3 posted by Oleg the Tumor on August 07, 2014 at 09:27:13 PT
Well then, let us make Answer to your question –
""Keval Parekh of New Jersey wrote, sarcastically, “Sure, Democrats, let’s fully legalize marijuana. ... And while we’re at it, how about cocaine, meth, heroin and LSD.”" Let's start with some straight chemistry: cannabis is a product of nature and is non-toxic. By itself cannabis does not produce fatalities by overdose. The others listed cannot say this, with the possible exception of LSD.To tunnel through the separate topic of whether or not hallucinogens such as LSD, mescaline and peyote should be allowed within the human realm of experience, we must first dig out the hole full of trash that we have come to accept as the definition of "Freedom."On one hand, do you have the right to your own person, in order to seek the unknown on your own?This may sound like doubletalk, but it is not. Self-determination is what prompted America into existence in the first place. Remember, the pilgrims came over here to get away from something over there, not because there was a big welcome waiting for them here. Maybe people should have to buy insurance and a license to run their minds, the same way that they do their cars. Is that what we are being herded into? Some of us just don't herd well.The fact is, you can die of a heart attack seconds after trying cocaine, so that's a crapshoot every time. Think about it, it's a lousy bet.Most heroin addictions begin with a doctors prescription. That would be somehow funny and ironic if it weren't so tragic.  So give that problem back to the doctors, but as a medical one, not as a legal one.As for meth: clearly, these people need professional help. Combining commercially available chemicals in a two liter bottle to get "high" (by some perverted definition of that word) is likely to be a "problem du jour" for some time. Remember the "Better Living through Chemistry!" slogan? That ad campaign for the chemical industry started in the 1950s.Removing the cartel's criminal profit driver is key to a peaceful, stable, productive society.Cannabis Sativa (remember sativa means "useful") the direct topic at hand, has many other uses that the general public is not aware of. (Paper, floor covering, woven products, paints, varnishes, an explosive, etc. etc.) The other items on the above list can't respond to that either.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on August 06, 2014 at 18:46:55 PT
Cannabis is better than a cannabis prohibitionist.
The cannabis issue is a litmus test issue. Any candidate who says cannabis should remain prohibited and takes the position to end the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, will lose traction.No hard core cannabis prohibitionist will even make it to the polls.RE-legalizing cannabis is a front and center, in Your face issue now.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on August 06, 2014 at 18:38:14 PT
Quote: President Obama: “He should use executive authority to legalize marijuana on a national level and let each state decide their own laws. This could be an opportunity for Pres. Obama to cement his legacy and give the nation what it clearly desires.”-0-But keep in mind, at this point, where cannabis stands today, it brings Democrats to the polls and steals repub voters. So, after Florida, Alaska, Oregon and D.C. votes pass, THEN Obama should make that move.
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