The New York Times Is Massively Hypocritical When It Comes to Marijuana

The news: The New York Times has gotten heavy praise for recently endorsing federal marijuana legalization. But their drastic change of heart on the issue doesn't mitigate the how the New York Times Company treats its employees, who still must be drug tested for marijuana.

Weedmaps, a dispensary listing website, called out the glaring discrepancy in the Times' drug testing policy and started a petition for the company to stop testing employees' urine for evidence of marijuana use.

"The Times' public policy pickle over employee drug testing is indicative of the challenges we face as marijuana legalization becomes the norm," Weedmaps CEO Justin Harfield told Mic. "You can stop locking people up for buying and selling marijuana, but reversing the collateral consequences will take some time."

Inconsistent answers. "We test for a lot more than just marijuana. Whether we're going to continue testing for marijuana, I don't know. But if they ask me, I'll say stop," Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal told MSNBC's Chris Hayes. But this is not the case, according to a spokesperson for the Times who told the Huffington Post, "Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law." It just happens to be the same, specific law that this organization has made a concerted effort to rebuke.

An anti-marijuana track record. The Times' new support does not undo the news organization's consistently disparaging coverage of marijuana legislation.

For example, in a recent piece called "Evolving on Marijuana" that covered the history of their cannabis coverage, the Times references only one of previous anti-marijuana article. There are, in fact, many more. These include scathing critique of hippy culture from 1968, a 1933 article that stated weed is a drug for "Mexicans or Spanish-Americans of the lower classes" and a piece published in 1934 about spreading the fear of this "poisonous" plant's westward expansion.

More recently, Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed about the danger of edibles and David Brooks opined about weed being a youthful indiscretion. The notable writers used the Times' platform and massive influence to actively assail marijuana legalization. The Times also published a piece in the Health section that argued pro-marijuana politicians are misguided and ignorant of science.

Mixed signals. They may be support pot legalization in name, but the Times' actions speak quite differently. Journalists who wish to be considered for jobs there may still be turned away for revealing that they personally use marijuana. While the explicitly stating that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, the New York Times Company won't be testing applicants for booze.

This type of hypocrisy has no place in modern, online journalism. The New York Times Company should lead by example.

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Abdullah Saeed

Abdullah Saeed covers drug policy, focusing on newly forming cannabis legislation in the US. He is the author of VICE's "Weediquette" column as T. Kid. His work has appeared in High Times, Huffington Post, Paper, and Village Voice, among others.

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