NEW YORK: This week, the New York Times is rolling out a series of articles in support of the legalization of marijuana, which they ceremoniously threw their support to in an editorial on Sunday. While viewed by many as a watershed moment in the decades-long fight against the prohibition of marijuana, it’s hard not to wonder if the Times’ endorsement is a day late and a dollar short.
The phrase “war on drugs” was popularized all the way back in 1971 after President Nixon used the phrase in a press conference. Nixon called drugs “public enemy number one.” The United States spends around $51 billion on the war against drugs, according to Drug Policy Alliance. And 2.2. million people are currently incarcerated in American prisons and jails, mostly for low-level drug offenses. “Today, there are more people behind bars for nonviolent drug offenses than were incarcerated for all crimes, violent or otherwise, in 1970,” PBS explains. And that’s before we even mention the underlying racism of America’s anti-drug program.
But long before the Times put its institutional weight behind the legalization effort, a different class of citizens was rallying support for the cause: comedians. From pointing out the hypocrisy of big drug companies and the endless pushing of legal drugs, to the racial component to arrests and sentencing, the ridiculous legal penalties for marijuana possession, and the lack of compassion for addicts, comics have time and again served as voices of reason.