With the usual fanfare and self-regard we have come to expect from the New York Times editorial board, the prestigious paper has changed its mind about pot. It now believes that the federal ban on the substance should be lifted and that the whole issue should be sent back to the states to handle. Not only did it issue a big Sunday editorial (the equivalent of a secular fatwa in my native Upper West Side of Manhattan), but it has since been flooding the zone on the issue with essays from members of the editorial board.
It is a significant milestone, but not altogether in the way the Times would like. For starters, the Times is pulling a bit of a Ferris Bueller here. It is leaping out in front of a parade and acting as if it’s been leading it all along. It’s worth noting that the Times is 18 years behind National Review magazine and my old boss, the late William F. Buckley, and at least 40 years behind Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman, who wrote in Newsweek in 1972 that President Nixon’s War on Drugs should be called off even before it started.
And the libertarian flagship magazine Reason has been waiting impatiently for the rest of us since it was founded in 1968. (The left-wing Nation magazine didn’t get around to an editorial backing legalization until last year.) Many GOP politicians beat the Times to the punch by years, including former governors William Weld of Massachusetts and Gary Johnson of New Mexico.
Conservatives and libertarians should always celebrate when liberal institutions finally catch up with them.