Getting past the pot shots

I really enjoyed this article by David Downs in the Columbia Journalism Review: Get stoked: the MSM are acting less childish about pot.

We’ve all experienced the media’s childishness over the years when it comes to weed. Every story about marijuana was full of puns, double entendres, and sniggering reporters. It was the rule. No story could escape it.

But now…

“The de facto ban on serious, cogent mainstream media discussion about the topic has been lifted,” says Stephen Gutwillig, State Policy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington. “They’ve stopped acting like they’re in sixth grade. There’s less puns and ‘scare quotes.’ The Wall Street Journal did a front-page story last week that treated medical marijuana like just another industry story.”

Recently, The New York Times ran a classic, “Style” section hit piece on cannabis, but then followed it up, almost as a mea culpa, with an extremely insightful and bold “roundtable discussion” with leading thinkers on the topic. The Economist now stands alongside the National Review in calling for legalization, and even the staid Congressional Quarterly Researcher devoted its entire June issue to a thorough review of the topic.

Quite a change. Of course, the sniggering hasn’t stopped completely. Bruce Mirken reports on how the New York Daily News had to completely make up a quote in order to insert the phrase “harshed the buzz” when talking about serious MPP TV ads on medical marijuana.

But that’s the Daily News.

There has been a sea change, and it get more noticeable every day. Serious articles about marijuana in leading papers, with quotes from doctors and cops and, and as the Columbia Journalism Review article notes, “reporters keep telling us how difficult it is to find opposition quotes.” [quotes from prohibitionists]

It’s true. Look how often Calvina Fay has shown up recently.

Here’s a part I particularly enjoyed…

At the same time, though, the influence of network television is waning amid the rise of an old-style partisan press on the Internet. Just as “we’re seeing a rapid decline of straight media on electoral campaigns,” California political consultant Larry Tramutola points out, the Web is diversifying the conversation about marijuana. The debate “may be decided in the blogosphere,” Tramutola says. “It may be decided on informal networks.”

That’s us, baby! That’s us.

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11 Responses to Getting past the pot shots

  1. Guy#1 says:

    I’d say it’s already been decided everywhere but where it counts.

  2. ezrydn says:

    Or, Calvina, due to your distaste, it just may be decided and overturned. Then, it’s back to JiffyLube for ya.

  3. kaptinemo says:

    “Think of it as evolution in action.”

    As has been pointed out, cannabis consumers cross almost every demographic. Which makes them the largest de facto minority in this country, scores of millions strong.

    That’s quite a voting bloc. One whose impact is starting to be felt across the country when it comes to MMJ legislation. Which is in turn a reflection of the changing nature of society itself.

    Society is once more in ferment, the old prejudices are dying out as those who hold them are dying off, and the remaining adherents to said prejudices in the following generation are increasingly being outnumbered…and are getting a little taste of what ‘marginalization’ means.

    So, society itself is evolving, and those destined to play a role in that are aware of the facts regarding cannabis, as opposed to subscribing to the prejudices. And we, good people, have played a seemingly minor – but no less pivotal – role in that evolution.

  4. Duncan says:

    Quite a voting bloc? Wouldn’t a even a little agreement on strategy among the members be required first before we get to be a bloc? Herd of cats is more accurate. 3 ballot initiatives on the CA ballot in 2010, what a plan. The majority of CA votes yes to legalization, but none of the initiatives pass because the vote is split. Oh my god Richard Lee & Don Duncan might make a buck I can’t vote yes to his plan!

  5. R.O.E. says:

    I love you internet junkies and bloggers! May we change the world!

  6. Pete says:

    Duncan — at this point, a herd of cats is just fine with me. We don’t need strategy agreement right now. We can have the medical marijuana folks doing their thing and the LEAP folks working on something else, and SSDP focusing on their key issues, with DPA, and MPP, and NORML following their missions.

    I believe that the key to getting reform lies in sociodynamics — specifically, achieving critical mass. Wikipedia defines this as “the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and fuels further growth.” Take all these groups with different strategies and goals, but all with one commonality (that prohibition is wrong), and we should be able to achieve a critical mass within the population so that the politicians have no choice but to follow.

    It may be frustrating in the short run, but for real long-lasting change to occur, we need that critical mass, and it doesn’t have to be specific.

  7. allan420 says:

    as one who is an admitted cannabist I do believe some credit is due to the good herb herself. I mean if life is consciousness manifest and no life is without spark then surely the plant kingdom is on our side. And if you doubt the consciousness of plants – drink some ayahuasca. With a guide of course… and shrooms can often provide a good – and interesting! – meet and greet with those other species that share this tiny corner of the omniverse. Of course I’ve never quite understood how one can occupy a corner in an infinite system that comprises everything everywhere, everywhen, but hey… I smoke ganja.

    Back on topic, this old piece from MAP’s Steve Young is a telling tale:

    (from MAP’s Stephen Young in Feb, ’06) Web: DrugSense Helps Put Federal Propagandists Out Of Business

    It was such a brilliant idea, it only took about eight years for federally-funded drug warriors to make their own lame copy. In January of 2004, a government propaganda site called debuted a service called “In The News” –

    It was something like the MAP DrugNews service, but roughly one-tenth as useful.

    “In The News” collected stories about the drug war from mainstream U.S. newspapers, summarized the stories, and then offered a weekly email with links to subscribers.

    I write of “In The News” in the past tense because it hasn’t distributed any stories since the end of 2005. I sent a note to the site’s webmaster yesterday to see when the service would be resumed. I haven’t received an answer.

    The drug news distribution war is over, and it appears the reformers at MAP won.

    Pete mentions all the orgs, but it’s MAP and DrugSense that have been the warehouse for drug war stories, the place where we can find darn near anything!. So many MAPsters have done so much, quietly and with grace (and sometimes not so quietly and not so gracefully… lol) and have their fingers in lots of reform movement pies that I had to add a tip o’ me hat.

  8. Thank God, I believe that very soon the marijuana prohibition laws will just go up in smoke.

  9. ezrydn says:

    While not “critical Mass,” there’s something to be said about wearing the LEAP shirt around. It’a a total magnet. While out, I may catch one or two but usually endup with a small herd standing arond listening and shaking their heads yes. Plus, I always have flyers to hand out so they dont forget. We still have the “frindgers” out there that don’t have a clue And if they can rememger that one encounter, it worked.

  10. Mike R says:

    Even more positive publicity:


  11. R.O.E. says:

    Speaking of shirts EZ, I went out and found a shirt. On the back is a huge cannabis leaf with a USDA seal stamped on it, the front same thing only smaller over left chest. Now if may not say”Cops say legalized drugs”, but it has drawn some very interesting conversations…as well as strange looks. People just cant undrstand why I would wear a shirt with a USDA seal over a pot leaf till I tell them cannabis has been proven to kill cancers.

    Anything to start a conversation, LOL.

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