As dedicated medical professionals, prevention workers, treatment providers, and community volunteers, we were greatly dismayed last week when the New York Times decided to crusade in favor of marijuana legalization. So we wanted to respond to the editors. Today, we did.
We thought a paper like the Times – led by Andrew Rosenthal, the son of former Times executive editor, Pulitzer Prize winning Abe Rosenthal, a stalwart critic of legalization – would have done some more homework on the issue. If they had, they might have realized why almost every major national medical organization opposes marijuana legalization. But without considering the views of many of us, they decided to take such an extreme position as openly advocating for legalizing marijuana.
Surprisingly, the Times fell into the trap that is becoming increasingly common today — the trap of the false dichotomy in drug control. That dichotomy says we only have two choices in drug policy: legalization or incarceration. We can either “lock em’ up'” or “let em’ use.”
But many groups are taking a different approach. We realize that we don’t have to choose between two extremes. We loathe both the rise of a for-profit prison industry and the rise of for-profit drug industry. We know that prevention, early intervention, treatment, education, and smart law enforcement can go a long way to increase public health and safety. And we know that we don’t want another tobacco-like industry that will stop at nothing to profit from higher addiction rates.
We hope this ad starts a national debate on the subject of marijuana legalization, and inspires Americans to take this decision seriously. A great deal is at stake, and the direction we go as a nation will have an impact on every single one of us.