Mainstream media as a whole has not been very friendly to marijuana reform. For many decades, mainstream media took a very biased stance towards marijuana, perpetuating false propaganda in an attempt to keep marijuana prohibition in place. In recent years some large media outlets have moved to the right side of history, but not all of them. Yesterday the Washington Post came out with an article urging Washington D.C. residents to vote ‘no’ on marijuana legalization. Washington D.C. is voting on marijuana legalization this November.
According to polls, voters in Washington D.C., and nationwide, support marijuana legalization. But this didn’t stop the Washington Post from stating the following in their article:
It’s not been a year since Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana use and, as the Smart Approaches to Marijuana has catalogued, there have been negative consequences, including increased instances of impaired driving and increased use by youth. With marijuana already decriminalized, there’s no reason for the District to rush the next step; why not at least give Colorado a bit more time to provide lessons?
It didn’t take long for activists and other media outlets to discredit the Washington Post’s article for numerous reasons. My favorite was from Fire Dog Lake, which pointed out the following:
This first statement is completely wrong. Recreational marijuana use for adults was legalized on December 10th, 2012 almost two years ago. While the state didn’t allow the first licensed adult use marijuana retail stores to open until January 2014, possession of up to an ounce and home cultivation of up to six plants has been legal for adults since late 2012. That is especially important in this debate because Initiative 71 would only legalize limited personal possesion (sic) and home growing by adults, so Colorado in 2013 provides a perfect test case.
In addition the “proof” that marijuana legalization has gone badly comes from citing an anti-marijuana legalization group without pointing to any data or studies. The best public data we have from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment actually found marijuana use among teens dropped after the state legalized marijuana, but the Washington Post might have missed this because they didn’t realize marijuana was actually legalized in late 2012 not in 2014.
The editorial board even ignored the Washington Post article by Radley Balko which highlighted the flaws in Project SAM’s argument about impaired driving, with data showing traffic deaths are down since the retail shops opened.
It’s pretty shameful that a media outlet as large as the Washington Post, which no doubt has numerous editors on their staff, didn’t fact check an anti-marijuana propaganda article like this one. If the Washington Post’s goal is to sway voters away from supporting marijuana legalization, this is obviously not the way to do it. Long gone are the days when mainstream media outlets can use the ‘boogeyman tactic’ to try to scare voters. We live in an age where facts are checked, and people have the ability to research claims and call out BS when they see it. I can’t wait to see Washington D.C. legalize marijuana, which I feel is likely this November. If you are able to do so, donate to the Washington D.C. campaign.