Going to Pot: L.A. Weekly’s Journalistic Standards? 

Wednesday, Dec 2 2009

Duuuude! Our cover story last week on medical-marijuana outlets (“Medical-Weed Wars: How the potheads outwitted Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles City Council,” by Patrick Range McDonald and Christine Pelisek, Nov. 27) has received more than 100 comments. Readers tend to come down on either side of the issue: The Weekly is spot-on, or we’re dead wrong. Noel Weiss from Marina del Rey is in the former camp: “One great job of reporting by all of you. ... Another significant example of what happens when there is a complete and utter lack of openness, transparency and any real thoughtfulness by the City Council.”

And here’s EagleRock from — you guessed it — Eagle Rock: “Great reporting, L.A. Weekly! You know you’ve hit the truth nerve when the potheads start calling you names. Keep up the great work!”

Oh, yeah, did we mention that the potheads — or their supporters at any rate — are calling us names? “You idiots!” for one. Unprintable, for another. But for the most part, civility wins out — though that’s not to say everyone is happy. “All I can say is this article is pure garbage,” writes Mickey Martin of the Medical Cannabis Safety Council in the 510 area code. “I thought the days of the penny-press sensational, gossipy journalism were over, but you have proven me wrong. The sad part is that you hide behind the guise of being a legitimate media outlet, when you are the equivalent of the National Enquirer without all of the trouble of being national. Stick to writing horoscopes and music reviews. That may be the most honest journalism you do.”

Related Stories

  • Grim Sleeper Movie

    See also: "Serial Killer Circus: Accused Grim Sleeper Lonnie Franklin Sometimes Seems in Charge of His L.A. Trial."   In August of 2008, L.A. Weekly investigative reporter Christine Pelisek unveiled the existence of a dormant serial killer who'd emerged from a 13-year hiatus to kill more girls and women in South L.A...
  • Spider-Man Kicked Out of Echo Park Lotus Festival (PHOTO) 2

    In 2010 the masked characters known as the superheroes of Hollywood Boulevard won a huge federal court case that allows them to continue to perform on the Walk of Fame near Highland Avenue. See also: Superheroes Allowed Back On Hollywood Boulevard Thanks To Federal Judge's Ruling The Los Angeles Police Department...
  • Game of Drones: How LAPD Got Seattle's Rejects 8

    When a Seattle Police Department commander boarded a commercial jet to L.A. three weeks ago, below him in the cargo hold were two large packages he'd checked as baggage — two miniature, 3-foot-long, camera-equipped helicopters, destined for the LAPD. It had been almost a year since the two 3.5-pound Draganflyer...
  • Panties Beware

    There's pantsing, and then there's underpantsing. Police this week circulated security images (on the next page) of a man they say has taken pantsing to a new low: He has allegedly pulled down not just the pants of his female victims, but also their underwear. The women were attacked as...
  • 4th DUI Checkpoints

    The 4th of July is, as you well know, one of the drunkest holidays across the land. America! But it's hard to celebrate United States' independence when you're locked up with a bunch of losers. And since this is the land of democracy, the LAPD is giving you a fighting...

(Sorry to say, we no longer do horoscopes. But at least we’re honest about it.)

And then there are the tongue-in-cheek comments, always (read: occasionally) entertaining. “Wow, what an eye-opener!” says Josh H. Pille from Los Angeles. “I had no idea until I read the article that Eric Garcetti is profiting from medical marijuana or that convicted drug dealer Don Duncan is on the city’s payroll! What a sucker I was for voting for safe access only to find out that ‘young men’ — long since proven to not suffer from medical problems — are buying dope. Or to find that politics — politics! — is practiced at City Hall. But I can rest easier knowing the Weekly is on the case, with its steady, reliable, even coverage and its high journalistic ethics. Next week: The council can just resign and let the Weekly do the budgeting!”

Thanks, Josh. Does that mean we get their paychecks, too?

Last week, we asked for a few good letters, signed with full names and phone numbers. And we did get a few — more balanced and thoughtful than most comments, but not uncritical. Here’s one (edited) from Vince Beiser of Los Angeles: “I was astonished to read so much careful, thorough reporting served up alongside such hysterical, unproven allegations. Pelisek and McDonald did an admirable job of documenting the details of how our feckless City Council has lost control of L.A.’s proliferating pot shops, and muster a lot of evidence to support the conventional wisdom that most of those shops’ customers are not medically ill patients but garden-variety stoners.

“But the reporters leap from those carefully collected facts into pure hype about how pot shops are breeding crime. Not one of these scary-sounding claims is backed up with a single statistic.

“Crime stats are easy to gather — you can find them mapped block-by-block on the LAPD’s Web site. But Pelisek and McDonald seem not to have bothered to see whether there’s any basis for the complaints of cops and neighborhood gadflies. If they had, their story might have lost a lot of its urgency.

“Here’s the bottom line: People have been buying and selling marijuana in this city for much of the last century. It’s a huge business that has until recently been entirely illegal, and as a result has been a moneymaker for gangs and spawned a fair bit of concomitant crime. The real issue is whether making some small part of that business quasilegal in the form of marijuana dispensaries has made things worse. It’s possible that’s the case, but I very much doubt it. And there’s certainly nothing in this article to convince me.”

Well said, Vince, but look, here’s the thing: As the Weekly has reported in earlier stories, former police chief Bill Bratton ordered an extensive survey of crime statistics in and around pot dispensaries and found spikes in crime related specifically to the outlets. When [LAPD Chief Charlie] Beck offered the remarks quoted in last week’s story, he was referring to Bratton’s survey. As for your argument about the amount of pot sold here ... as the story pointed out, drug-enforcement authorities have found a sudden, fourfold increase in tonnage of pot confiscated in areas around Los Angeles this year over last year. Why the increase? Because demand for pot has risen in Los Angeles.

And now, good-bye to all that. You can view the 100-plus comments (and the article) online. You may want to light one up while you’re at it.

Jonathan Gold, that is — whose review of Bistro LQ brought these two short, but meaningful, comments. “Wow, almost descriptive enough to turn me into a vegan!” says Fred T. from Santa Susana, who is joined in food-writing heaven by P.T. from El Segundo: “I don’t know about the food ... but that’s one damn fine piece of writing!”

Finally, this rather mysterious little missive in response to Christopher Miles’ positive review of Jeff Koons’ show at Gagosian Gallery (Nov. 24): “u fcking cnt.” Signed, Jeff from L.A.

The Weekly invites comments from readers. We prefer letters that are signed and include a phone number for verification. Write to us at readerswrite@laweekly.com.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • L.A. Teens Fast For Central American Immigrants

    When you were a teenager you hung out at the mall, made mixtapes and ate McNuggets. These here L.A. kids are going without food this week to support the children coming to the United States illegally from Central America. The young people "will be drinking water only" through Friday, a...
  • Innovative Condom Is Crowdfunding Its Way Into Your Bedroom

    An innovative condom that only covers the tip of the penis is one step closer to reality. We last told you about local inventor Charles Powell's Galactic Cap in May, when he was using Indiegogo to try to raise $100,000. That cash would be used to launch clinical trials and start the U.S. Food and...
  • 10 Secret Ways to Outsmart L.A. Pitfalls

    You're so smart, you know how to avoid L.A.'s urban booby traps and tap its big-heartedness. You're so good, you share this wisdom with friends and family. Special knowledge like that godsend, the easy-peasy shortcut between the Westside and DTLA — Slauson Boulevard. And the fact that Sprouts has "double...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.