Transcript for NYT Editorial Page Editor: Pot Prohibition 'Unacceptable'
It was surprising twist in the debate over legalizing marijuana check out your copy of the New York Times this morning and you may want to do would double take you'll find an editorial. It looks a little like a manifesto. The newspaper has just come out in favor of legalizing pot. Joining me now the editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. Andy I have to say I am a little bit surprised to see the times following in the footsteps of high times magazine. It was forty years ago this -- that high times first came out for legalizing marijuana. And here now the New York Times bluntly saying repeal the ban on marijuana. What John -- well I'm glad you're surprised I'm not sure we would have been rated -- -- forty years ago. But in the the country -- and moving in this direction public opinion is clearly there. We've been watching the State's experiment and more and more states now it's about 37. Allow marijuana either for medical now for recreational use and they're doing it in defiance of the federal ban were you concerned about sending a signal particularly to young people there's nothing wrong with smoking marijuana. No thought about that and we discuss that and you know we think that there should be a 21 year age limit on -- although you know that'll be -- -- I'm sure. And I guess the point is are not urging people to smoke pot anymore than we are for them to drink alcohol or to smoke cigarettes. It's just that making it illegal was creating a social cost for the country that was absolutely unacceptable. Is there any doubt -- your mind that making it legal for whatever arguments you have for that will inevitably lead to an increase in marijuana use. I don't think it necessarily well I think -- people who want -- smoke pot now are smoking. I don't by the way think that middle school -- should be smoking and every day. Probably nobody should be smoking and every day at least if they want to have a job. But I don't think that we're gonna see a huge increase there it's easy to get -- now it's just that it could cost you in terms of your rest of your life. -- the timing on this editorial is actually because you just had. Maureen Dowd not long ago one of -- columnist. Go to Colorado. Try some of the the legal product out there and this is what she wrote about it. She said I felt a scary shot or go through my body and brain. I barely -- from the -- to the bed -- -- lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next to eight hours I was thirsty but couldn't move to get water or even tore off the lights I was pitching -- paranoid. It is that the kind of product you want to -- legal. I don't think so. I think the problem there was that more rain -- way too much I think it was a chocolate bar. And wasn't sure how much he should take its it should be noted that eating marijuana. You're eating a product that is -- -- more powerful than when -- spoken that's been true you know since. The sixties. And there are real issues that we talked about some of -- stuff with labeling and dosage. And there needs to be some regulation we just think that this should be handled locally and not Washington. And that having it illegal nationally has created this this system where were putting hundreds of thousands of people in prison every year. For no reason except to turn them into career criminals. Potentially hear that your time is making kind of a states' rights argument on this but I also have to ask you know. You have your editorial page has been on the forefront of limiting. Tobacco use and -- praised Michael Bloomberg over and over again for his efforts in New York City. One editorial several years ago you said since taking office. Mr. Bloomberg has been a kind of anti -- moral man. Targeted smoking as a public health enemy which makes him one of the best things to happen along since the chest X -- so here you have a virtual ban. On cigarette smoking in public places which the times liked what what why -- -- so tough on tobacco and so easy on candidates. Well again that's a -- decision that wasn't made by congress which is really important. And the other is is that tobacco use kills you slowly quickly in -- medium pace. The medical evidence that marijuana is completely different most of the evidence that we've been able to look at suggests that from otherwise healthy adult. Moderate use poses very little if any health risks. OK so before -- -- -- -- -- one more question yeah sure you can feel free to answer or not on this wow I -- marijuana use either by you or by the rest of the editorial page editors of the New York time in her editorial writers -- -- -- times. Do you got smoked pot. I've never asked the people work for me whether they smoke pot and I'm not gonna ask I have smoked pot my life I went to college in Colorado in the 1970s you figure -- out hit -- right hander Rosenthal the editorial page editor of New York Times. Thank you for joining us thanks for having me.
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