The New York Times' editorial board has endorsed legalizing recreational marijuana nationally and yesterday launched a multi-part series by its members to address questions about health, law enforcement and the social implications of ending the prohibition on weed.

"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," the editorial board wrote. "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."

Colorado and Washington state have both legalized recreational marijuana. This November Oregon voters will be asked to decide whether this state should follow suit. New Approach Oregon has raised nearly $2 million for its campaign, according to financial reports filed with the Oregon Secretary of State.

The first of the Times' six-part series focuses on the patchwork of relaxed state laws that means three in four Americans live in a state where marijuana use has either been decriminalized, made legal for medical purposes or made legal altogether.  

Meanwhile in the federal Controlled Substances Act:

"'Marihuana' is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act alongside some of the most dangerous and mind-altering drugs on earth, ranked as high as heroin, LSD and bufotenine, a highly toxic and hallucinogenic toad venom that can cause cardiac arrest. By contrast, cocaine and methamphetamine are a notch down on the government's rankings, listed in Schedule II."