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Gazette attacks legal cannabis industry ... again 

click to enlarge The Gazette doesn’t seem interested in including positive pot stories stories - FILE PHOTO
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  • The Gazette doesn’t seem interested in including positive pot stories stories
The Gazette recently launched a multi-part, occasional series, called “Collateral Impact,” exploring how the pot business has unfolded in the five years since recreational use was legalized in Colorado. In the past the Gazette has used its news pages to editorialize against legalized pot, and an introduction to this latest series by Gazette editor Vince Bzdek does little to assure readers that this effort will be much more balanced.

While this series does at least use real journalists — as opposed to the opinion writers posing as reporters featured in the paper’s 2015 series “Clearing the Haze” — the questions Bzdek proposes answering appear to constitute a one-sided attack pegged to the notion that enforcement has been less than perfect and that black and gray markets have developed.

It’s not that such stories aren’t important. But the Gazette doesn’t seem interested in including positive stories, like how Colorado’s families have been impacted by decreased incarceration for nonviolent drug possession, or how patients have been helped by medical marijuana, or a recent study that found reductions in alcohol use in legal states. (The second article in the series did, at least, note that cannabis has revived Trinidad’s economy.) Nor does the paper’s leadership appear keen on exploring whether some problems, like the black market, would be alleviated if marijuana were simply legalized nationally.

Like a modern-day teetotaler, the Gazette appears to fixate solely on problems with the industry, while failing to acknowledge that prohibition — and the Drug War that enforced it — is widely considered an expensive failure, or that a majority of Americans now support legal marijuana.

Westword’s Michael Roberts weighed in on the first installment of the Gazette’s new series, which ran Feb. 17, noting marijuana advocates’ comments “are buried beneath accounts of arrests and violence that suggests that pot legalization has turned Colorado into a law enforcement hellscape.” He also notes the first part appears to be more even-handed than “Clearing the Haze,” which was partially written by Christine Tatum, wife of Dr. Christian Thurstone, a prominent opponent of greater access to cannabis by young people.

Back in 2015, “Clearing the Haze” prompted Independent editor and columnist Ralph Routon to write that the series had erred by “not clearly explaining the paper’s true motives to readers, from the start and each day thereafter; cherry-picking sources, including one author’s husband, who conveniently agreed with the paper’s intent; not using the paper’s own newsroom reporters to do the work, despite that staff having won a Pulitzer Prize the year prior [in 2014]; and then reportedly warning the newsroom that any negative comments in social media or anywhere else could have consequences, even affecting job security.”

The Gazette also ran a 2017 series on cannabis titled “State of Marijuana” that was more balanced than “Clearing the Haze.” It was written by the paper’s news reporters.

The Gazette is owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz.

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