When The New York Times' Editorial Board called for the federal legalization of marijuana over the weekend, it didn't say anything marijuana activists hadn't already been saying for years. Instead, it helped make that debate even less sensational.
"It's a sign of just how mainstream this debate has become," Tom Angell, the Chairman of Marijuana Majority told The Wire. "It's very significant, and it's going to help embolden public officials," to publicly discuss an issue they've supported behind closed doors, he added.
Angell said that marijuana legalization has been seen as a "marginalized, third rail issue" politicians can't touch, but The Times Editorial Board's endorsement of federal legalization will put the issue "on the radar of political operatives." (At the same time, Marijuana Majority also tweeted out this:)
For several pro-legalization blogs and websites the High Times series adds a mainstream kind of legitimacy to a movement that has been working for years. “The endorsement of marijuana regulation from the nation’s most authoritative news source shows that we are on the right side of history,” Anthony Johnson, the head of the campaign to pass marijuana legalization in Oregon this fall, said in a statement to The Weed Blog. "It is exciting to read that the Times appears to have taken off the gloves for the fight, and is aiming for a knockout blow to legitimize this debate once and for all," wrote Toke of the Town.
As for the installations in the series, Angell said he hoped to see a focus on the international impact of America's drug laws. "The U.S. no longer has the moral authority to force other countries to keep laws on the books that they don't want," he said. The Times will cover the subject later this week.
In the meantime, The Times will continue to prove that weed is very completely mainstream. During a Facebook chat with The Times' editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, one user asked Rosenthal if he preferred Doritos or Cheetos when he got the munchies. "I tended to be a Chips Ahoy kind of guy," Rosenthal replied.