By Romain Bonilla, Portland State University SSDP
Earlier this week, Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) took a bold stand for marijuana law reform by introducing legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition. All too often laughed off by politicians, the majority of Americans supporting legalization can now rest assured that someone is voicing their concerns on Capitol Hill.
The media was quick to pick up on this story – it was covered in over a hundred news outletsavailable on the web, including the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone - which gives us a good view of the overall media attitude towards drug law reform. As far as I’ve read, most of the coverage was fair, although a few articles stood out:
- Salon writer Alex Seitz-Wald makes a great point with a piece titled “Why Republicans should support marijuana reform,” in which he calls out the GOP for avoiding the issue of legalization.
- The Pointless Pot Pun Award goes to WorldNetDaily, which posted the Reuters article under the title “Weed The People: Democrats High on Taxing Pot.”
- Major props to Forbes for a great headline: “Sure You’ve Paid Taxes Before, But Have You Ever Paid Taxes….ON WEED?”
Meanwhile on Fox Business Channel, Kevin Sabet and Ethan Nadelmann went at it for a good five minutes on The Willis Report (YouTube link), gifting us with another episode of their ongoing saga of debates. While Nadelmann smiled as he praised the congressmen and their respective bills, Kevin Sabet’s rhetoric was weak, predictable, and noticeably more desperate.
His talking points included accusing the congressmen of doing it for the money, calling the end to prohibition an “extreme” policy, suggesting that people don’t go to jail for using marijuana, and some good-old gateway drug theory (a prohibitionist classic). In response to Nadelmann’s point that most Americans support reform, Sabet shamelessly insisted that “the mainstream on this issue” would rather keep going with marijuana prohibition. Gerri Willlis, host of The Willis Report, didn’t look convinced. The burden of proof, it seemed, was on Kevin Sabet.
The bills introduced by Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer are affecting more than just Congress; they are affecting the public discourse about drug policy and how the issue is perceived by mainstream America. Stories such as this one further the media’s understanding of drug policy reform, which is necessary for reporters to call out fallacious arguments when they come up. As the media grows more critical of drug warriors, prohibitionist propaganda loses one of its main vehicles – and in turn, its credibility.
Check out Romain’s blog, there’s a ton of good stuff over there!