New York Times Backs Legalizing Pot

New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal and the "This Week" roundtable on the paper's decision to support legalizing marijuana.
5:16 | 07/27/14

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Transcript for New York Times Backs Legalizing Pot
Now to a surprising twist in the debate over legalizing marijuana. Check your copy of "The New York times" this morning. You may want to do a double take. You'll find an editorial that looks like manifesto. The newspaper coming out in favor of legalizing pot. We spoke to Andrew Rosenthal. The editor of the editorial . I'm a little bit surprised to see "The times" follow in the footsteps of "High times" magazine. 40 years ago it first came out to legalize marijuana. Here now, "The New York times, bluntly saying repeal the ban on marijuana. I'm glad you're surprised. I'm not sure we would have been ready to do it 40 years ago. The country is moving in this direction. Public opinion is there. We have been watching the states experiment. More and more states now, about 37, allow marijuana for medical or recreational use. And they're doing it in defiance of the federal ban. Were you concerned about sending a signal to young people that there's nothing wrong with smoking marijuana? We thought about that. We discussed it. We think there should be a 21-year age limit on it. Though that will be permeable I'm sure. I guess the point is we're not urging people to smoke pot any more than we are to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. It's just that making it illegal was creating a social cost that was not right. Your editorial page was on the forefront of limiting tobacco use. One editorial several years ago, you said, since taking office, Mr. Bloomberg has been a kind of anti-marlboro man, targeting smoking as a public health enemy which makes him one of the best things to happen to lungs since the chest x-ray. So here you have a virtual ban on cigarette spoking in public places, which "The times" liked. Why so tough on tobacco and easy on cannabis? It was a local decision, not made by congress. Which is really important. And the other is that tobacco use kills you. The medical evidence on marijuana is different. I have to ask one more question. Do you guys smoke pot? I have never asked the people who work for me. Where they smoke pot. I'm not going to ask. I smoked pot in my life. I went to college in the 1970s in Colorado. You figure it out. All right, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor of "The New York times." He's making a states rights argument. Let the localities decide whether or not to legalize pot. Do you agree? I think we're probably moving in that direction. Laws are changing. Habits are changing. I'm not somebody that advocates it. I went to college in the '60s. I didn't smoke pot. I don't think it's a good thing to be promoting. But you wouldn't oppose lifting the federal ban? That's hat this is about. I say let's have a legislation. Let's move through the legislative process. We have mostly voted on amendments. We have advocates. Democrat and republican. I would like to see this stuff introduced, taken up in committee. Let's have a national dialogue. You think this is over -- I think it's high time. High time. But let me just say this. Our prisons, are filled with nonviolent criminals, many of whom are there because they have been arrested for selling or using pot. You know, this war against drugs, particularly with regard to marijuana, has been lost. And we see the evidence of that all around us. And, I think it is very necessary to start this national dialogue. Let's not forget. War on drugs. Ronald Reagan. Just say no. Zero tolerance. Is that gone? A lot of the people routinely arrested for marijuana use are young people. If we're going to put a legal age restriction of 21, that won't stop a lot of the arrests of young people. I don't know this is the way to solve the social problems. And I think we all agree those are social problems. I think it's unsettled yet. We need more time in the laboratories of democracy to see how this affects crime, and young people. And the economy. Putting it back to the states. Don narks you have the last word. We can look at Colorado and Washington as two model states that, we can see, crime is going down. Supposedly in Denver. Look, we spend close to $4 billion enforcing these laws. We have put countless number of young model citizens in jail because they possess a -- weed, whatever you want to call it. It is high time. I agree. High time. We are out of time. Donna Brazile, Tom Cole, S.E. Cupp, Robert Reich. Thank you for joining us. Now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the names of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan. That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World news" with David Muir tonight. We'll see you back here next week.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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