It’s a searing indictment from the Los Angeles Occasions — a scathing investigation this previous week into how the legalization of marijuana in California has really led to a increase in unlawful pot farms, accompanied by worry, violence and employee abuse.
But, on the similar time, readers of the LA Occasions and different newspapers from states the place marijuana is authorized proceed to see a gentle stream of sunshine options portraying pot use as simply one other option to have enjoyable with pals. It’s a head-snapping contradiction that some information media retailers seem reluctant to deal with.
The LA Occasions’ prolonged investigation is brutal in its particulars. Because the article recounts, California voters in 2016 had been promised that legalized marijuana would crush gangs, cut back crime, and start to restore the environmental injury typically attributable to outlaw growers. As a substitute, the Occasions stories, “the legislation triggered a surge in unlawful hashish on a scale California has by no means earlier than witnessed.”
Journalists for the paper travelled to rural Northern California and the Mojave Desert to uncover huge unlawful marijuana farms with as many as 100 quonset-hut fashion greenhouses. Locals in close by small cities described lives lived in worry of armed guards who patrol the hashish complexes. Late evening gunfire shouldn’t be unusual. One Occasions photographer was threatened. Understaffed police items are overwhelmed.
The expose is past sobering. However in that very same version of the printed newspaper, within the lifestyle-heavy “Weekend” part, readers discovered a full-page information to “clear weed” — wholesome, natural hashish, freed from pesticides and chemical compounds. And, again in July, simply two days after the Occasions posted an earlier report concerning the increase in unlawful marijuana farms, the options part printed solutions for “what to pack in an final weed themed picnic-basket.”
To be clear, the paper is removed from alone in attempting to mix these discordant tones. Within the years since Colorado legalized pot, the Denver Put up has executed a persistently sturdy job overlaying the improve in ER visits linked to hashish use — particularly amongst teenagers and kids. However, like a number of different information organizations, it additionally continues to supply articles targeted on “hashish pleasant” actions, together with one thing known as “weed church.”
Different articles printed by numerous information retailers embody a information to the greatest marijuana celebrations and tips about one of the best coloring ebook for adults who’re excessive. Most stories do be certain to inform customers they need to buy hashish legally.
It’s doable this content material conflict exists as a result of the information aspect and have aspect don’t discuss to one another typically sufficient; every assigns tales and publishes them with out coordination. However you’d then assume that editors of those sections learn their very own paper front-to-back and ultimately discover out what’s being reported. That alone ought to begin to mood the tone of sure sorts of hashish protection.
The opposite chance: Publishers might have made an uneasy peace with the contradiction. They could consider that pot-positive options are a great way to carry youthful readers to their web sites — and, subsequently, have to proceed.
There’s no debating that the push to legalize hashish did have — and nonetheless does have — a robust ethical crucial. Prisons in states like California had been full of individuals, normally poor individuals, locked up merely for carrying small quantities of marijuana. Over-restrictive legal guidelines produced generations of ruined lives, lengthy after society started to see pot consumption as considerably much less harmful than different drug use.
But it surely appears this ethical basis must be balanced now with harsh realities coming to gentle. Investigative work by the LA Occasions and others clearly demonstrates the extreme, typically unanticipated, downsides to marijuana legalization. In lots of instances, legislation enforcement isn’t totally ready; laws doesn’t all the time contemplate potential loopholes. Federal anti-cannabis legal guidelines make it troublesome for authorized farmers and distributors to achieve success, creating alternatives for the unlawful commerce to step in and provide an rising demand.
And a follow-up LA Occasions investigation posted on the finish of final week reveals a “corrupting circulate of cash” introduced on by authorized hashish companies, together with a “torrent of marketing campaign money” directed at native politicians and calls for for bribes by different public officers.
Many of those points will most certainly be handled over time; one thing of civic equilibrium will likely be established. State legal guidelines will likely be adjusted and rural police staffing elevated. Prosecutors will cost and convict crooked workplace holders. However till these conditions start to enhance, information retailers really want to regulate the character of their marijuana content material to higher conform with the laborious reality their investigative groups maintain uncovering.
The rest simply feels irresponsible.
Joe Ferullo is an award-winning media govt, producer and journalist and former govt vp of programming for CBS Tv Distribution. He was a information govt for NBC, a writer-producer for “Dateline NBC” and labored for ABC Information. Comply with him on Twitter @ironworker1.