NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The times, they are a-changin' for marijuana, as long-time prohibition laws risk going up in flames.
Over the weekend, The New York Times advocated for legalization of pot at a national level, arguing that the "social costs" of the current prohibition laws are vast -- unreasonable prison sentences, a judicial system skewed against minority groups and the disadvantaged, the turning of law-abiding citizens into petty criminals.
While the road to legalizing and regulating marijuana use will not be one without challenge, The Times (the first mainstream media outlet to issue an opinion so strong) remains optimistic that creating the systems for the "manufacture, sale and marketing" of the drug are solvable problems.
Already, calls for legalization are growing louder, albeit at a state-by-state level rather than federal. Colorado was the first state to pass and implement legal marijuana laws with its first sale on January 1 this year; next was Washington which opened the doors to legal recreational pot stores on July 8. Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, grassroots activists fight and campaign, while politicians teeter on whether to relax laws.
According to a national survey by Pew Research Center earlier this year, 75% of Americans believe the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide, a majority opinion even among those who oppose its use.
It's a lucrative move for states to legalize the drug, too. Since Colorado embraced legalization, the state's coffers have gotten fuller. In the first quarter of the year, Colorado generated nearly $11 million from tax and licensing fees on recreational marijuana sales alone, a figure likely to grow as kinks in the supply chain are teased out.
Even President Obama has weighed in on the debate of whether or not to legalize. In an interview with The New Yorker earlier this year, Obama supported Colorado and Washington's legalization efforts but stopped short of making any statement on whether it could play out on a federal level.
"It's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished," he told the publication.
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