Some notes on marijuana coverage

Some folks have complained that they don’t want us to cover marijuana issues, that they want us to not write about stores or growers or strains.

Apologies if you’re offended, but we will continue to cover this story.

It’s big news with many angles and many gray areas that haven’t been sorted out yet. It affects many people in our area. And it’s not going to go away anytime soon, especially with legalization talk growing across the country.

If you don’t think things are changing, check out the New York Times series that is calling for federal legalization.

(Customers have frequently lined the block around Main Street Marijuana to buy new products)
(Customers have frequently lined the block around Main Street Marijuana to buy new products)

That said, I thought I’d clarify my own guidelines on this for what is or isn’t a story.

I began this blog with this in mind: The discussion of whether to legalize marijuana or not in Washington is over. It’s a done deal. The voters passed legalization and that genie won’t be going back in the bottle without a hell of a lot of lawsuits that will cost Washington billions of dollars.

If we push that aside, what we have is a brand new industry, one that hasn’t existed in the United States in more than 70 years, and even then it never existed in this form.

In some ways it reminds me of the early days of the telecom boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When I covered that in New Mexico, the scene was full of big-idea entrepreneurs. They were energetic, idealistic and tried out a wide variety of new business models. It was a vibrant scene that eventually developed into the cell phone and Internet services we have today.

What will the Pacific Northwest do with marijuana? If you look at the craft beer industry, there’s been a huge push here toward locally made products, gourmet beers, brewers pushing the envelope to try new flavors and combinations. That’s what this part of the country does. It proudly innovates in ways that support the local economy.

I think, and this is just my opinion, that the marijuana industry here will provide the same sort of innovation. Growers are working on developing a wide variety of strains, there are new products, new ways to consume it. Marijuana today is a vastly different animal than what you might remember if you consumed it decades ago.

(Modern marijuana plants are far more potent and come in a much wider variety than ever before)
(Modern marijuana plants are far more potent and come in a much wider variety than ever before)

So in my coverage, with legalization issues pushed aside, the litmus test for a story is this: Would we cover this if it were a similar thing in the microbrew industry?

Would we do an introduction to microbrews in our Life section? Of course we would. And so we had a guest post on this blog as an introduction to marijuana use.

Controversial? Perhaps. But it passed the test.

Would we cover a new brewer opening in the area? Yup. Would we write about the brewing process and how they come up with new beers? Yup. We already have. I’ve covered all of that over the past four years right here at The Columbian.

So why wouldn’t we cover new pot stores? Why wouldn’t we cover new growers? Why wouldn’t we cover shortage issues and problems surrounding marijuana?

If there was a statewide beer shortage would we cover that? Absolutely. We’d also probably try to tell people what stores had stock until the shortage was over.

That’s what we’re doing with marijuana. And that’s why.

I understand that some people are upset that we’d write anything at all about what’s still an illegal drug federally. But whether you like it or not, legalization has come to Washington. And we will continue to write about it.


PS: You can write about it, too, by the way. Pro or con, I hope you’ll consider this blog an open forum about all things marijuana in Clark County. If you want to submit a guest post, please feel free to email me at sue.vorenberg@columbian.com.