NYT Supports Pot Legalization; Still Tests New Workers for Drugs

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 12:38 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The New York Times is planning to continue testing incoming employees for drug use, even though the newspaper came out with a controversial editorial over the weekend supporting the legalization of marijuana.

A Times spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that its drug-testing policy will stay the same despite the editorial board's decision, which has been criticized as a "Cheech and Chong" ruling by former drug czar John Walters.

"Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law," a company spokeswoman said. "We aren't going to get into details beyond that."

In its editorial headlined "Repeal Prohibition, Again," the Times said, "It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals, and crime syndicates arose and flourished.

"It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol. The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

The editorial is the first of a six-part series by the Times called "High Time." In a blog on the series, editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal said that the paper's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., supports the board's decision, which "was long in the making."

Although the Times has previously pushed for legalizing medical marijuana, Rosenthal said the paper's support of recreational marijuana use evolved from the fact that many states had recently softened their marijuana laws "in open defiance of the federal ban" and it "became clear to us that there had to be a national approach to the issue."

Rosenthal admitted on ABC News’ "This Week" on Sunday that he's smoked pot in the past and said he doesn't care whether people on the board smoke marijuana now.

"I've never asked the people that work for me whether they smoke pot, and I'm not going to ask," he said.

But Walters, who worked as drug czar under former President George W. Bush, slammed the Times' editorial on "Fox & Friends," saying that the board is ignoring the science on the subject, according to Mediaite.

"They act like they live on another planet," Walters said. "More people are in treatment for marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined. More kids, as teenagers, are in treatment for marijuana than alcoholism, as teenagers. We're not keeping it out of the hands of kids.

"This isn't the way they treat environmental toxins. This isn't the way they treat regulations that affect the safety of Americans.

"All of a sudden they've decided they want to live in the past. All of the science, monthly, is showing more risk. At a time when science is telling us one thing, The New York Times is acting like it wants us to be ruled by Cheech & Chong."

Walters added that the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado is a "disaster," and indicated a "wholesale failure to enforce the law by President [Barack] Obama."

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