New York- Influential US daily The New York Times called Sunday for the United States to legalize marijuana for recreational users over 21.
"The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana," said an Article written by the newspaper's editorial board. The decision was "inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws," it added.
The decision was "long in the making," editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal said in an accompanying blog post.
Last year Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use to people 21 or older.
Many other states are looking at similar liberalization of their marijuana laws, but on the federal level it remains illegal.
Theditorial said it had 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."
It dismissed addiction as a "relatively minor problem" in healthy adults, but said there were "legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains."
The Times compared the ban on marijuana to prohibition - the 13-year period starting in 1920 during which the sale of alcohol was prohibited.
"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 said.