How Journalist Should Approach Covering the Cannabis Industry
Cannabis has been in the murky side of life for nearly a century. Over the past twenty years, it climbed out of obscurity and is quickly gaining grounds in the “Main stream”. However, with this old industry preparing itself to go legal, there are a lot of challenges when it comes to covering cannabis stories.
I myself, have fallen victim to bias reporting on the cannabis industry. However, I am no journalist. I am merely an advocate with the ability to write a compelling analysis of interesting things that happen in the cannabis industry. My job, is to let people know what happens and in most cases, what I find interesting and worthy to share with others.
My main goal when it comes to writing is not only to educate on certain issues, but to question motives, laws, analyze products and everything in between.
The problem, the cannabis industry isn’t getting the coverage in the media it deserves. What I do and what a journalist is supposed to be doing are two different things.
Let me explain.
From Pot Puns to Bias Reporting
Whenever you read a story from a major news outlet, you’re most likely going to see plenty of cannabis puns in the headlines. “Up in Smoke”, “Don’t bust out the Cheetos” and the likes, are always present when a major media outlet reports on cannabis.
Their biases are intrinsically installed within their reporting. What this does is create a biased view on any particular issue. Look to the more liberal media outlets and you have a more “positive spin”, the conservative ones demonize.
What about cannabis media companies? Of course, the majority of the articles published by canna-friendly media companies are positive. Only when there is negative press, regulatory issues and so forth, do cannabis media companies report on these stories.
What does this do for the world? Well, it creates polarized and inaccurate ideas about the cannabis industry. It’s not objective in the sense of real reporting.
Of course, one could argue that the state of journalism in general has taken a dive over the past few decades, however, when it comes to the cannabis industry, accurate reporting is quite necessary.
What is needed in the Cannabis industry in relation to journalism?
For the past 20 years there has been a battle for your consciousness. On one hand, you had prohibitionists doubling down on prohibitionist rhetoric to maintain the status quo. On the other hand, you had advocates hyping up cannabis in order to convince the status quo that prohibition is (and always has been) a colossal failure.
However, the industry is evolving and it’s time that cannabis-based journalism evolves alongside it. What the industry needs now are in-depth reporting about challenges the marijuana market faces. Objective analysis about studies and medical implications of using marijuana. We need to have detailed accounts of the culture, economy, health, and safety of cannabis on a global scale.
We need to educate people on proper consumption. We need to remove our own personal biases, and objectively report on these issues.
A personal change
Over the past few years I have been reducing my advocate style reporting, and rather started focusing on things that would be of interest to my readers. While every now and then I feel it’s my duty to provide a coherent rebuttal to obvious prohibitionist propaganda, most of my latest pieces are about industry discoveries, trends and the general culture and lifestyle surrounding cannabis.
While I do on occasions dive into the medical side of things, my expertise lies in culture, marketing and branding. My a-political writing also allows me to report on all sides of the political isle without falling victim to my own prejudices.
However, that’s where I draw the line. I love writing for cannabis publications. I love researching the plant, trying out new things and expanding my own horizons. However, as I mentioned, I am not a journalist. I am a writer that happens to love cannabis and the culture around it.
An industry change
Fortunately, I don’t have to write about all the rest of the stuff. I have been noticing over the past few years that the coverage about cannabis has started to level out a bit. No longer is it about getting people through click-bait, there are some substantial reporting happening.
This is important as proper journalism will validate the industry in the eyes of the public, speeding up the process of having legal marijuana on the books. Once that occurs, we can expect the cannabis-based media coverages to change their tune as well.
Currently, I believe all industries are preparing to make space for cannabis. Let’s just hope that media outlets start treating cannabis like any other product on the market. Once that happens, you should be able to buy cannabis anywhere in the world.
Let’s hope that happens soon.