One of the things I have said often in speeches and written about is that the best two-word explanation for marijuana prohibition is bad journalism. You’ll hear that again, and again.
There are so many examples of that. Don’t get me started.
I remember, for example, when I was at NORML, there was a really terrible article in The Washington Times which tends to specialize in articles about marijuana in particular. So I called up the reporter and said, “Could I send you some material that contradicts the party line?” She said, “Oh, I’d love to see it, but that, you know, there’s really no point in it. I was just given this assignment. I probably will be writing about it again.” But what I had to do was to call the drug czars office and get them to say something. And that was journalism dealing with marijuana. You know, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. And this went on for decades.
One example of how this thing worked was I was in Amsterdam at the Cannabis Cup – this would have been in the early 1990s – and Morley Safer, who was a really great reporter in those days, was there and he interviewed me on the street. So we were trying to talk over a lot of street noise and everything else. But we had a pleasant exchange. I said I live around the corner from you in Washington, D.C.. I really did. I lived about a block from the CBS offices in Washington, D.C. So I said, yeah, we could talk there if you would like.
His response was, “Well, there’s no point in it because this is a location shoot in Amsterdam.” Now, this isn’t safer. I’m not knocking 60 Minutes, or anything else. This is just simply the way it operated.
One of the other things that happened fairly often was some other article that could be good or could be bad … usually bad. And so you call him up and ask if we could provide you some information about marijuana? Well, we don’t really do many articles about marijuana. And, you know, it was clear that they were inhibited either by explicit instructions or simple fear. I mean, self-censorship is in many ways a much bigger problem in our world than the government’s censorship. However, the government’s ability to actually shut anybody down is very limited, but huge pressures can in fact shut people down; particularly regarding the marijuana issue for decades that they simply wouldn’t report on.
You got the idea that basically what they were saying to you was we would be embarrassed to report on it too often. And I used to joke that there was more smoke than sex in closets because it did marijuana whirl with reporters who smoked marijuana and then couldn’t write about it. Finally they can write about it today without fear, but for the most part, they still don’t. The spigot is still running. The latest research is still being reported. And the other day, monkeys or mice, you know, they gave them way too much. (If your mouse, or your monkey, smokes too much marijuana…)
For more of Dick’s rants about the legalization of marijuana, and CBD, click here.
There is a really long history of this. Why? Because the National Institute on Drug Abuse, for the most part, funds only marijuana research that will make marijuana look bad because they are the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Any illicit use of a drug is by definition the government’s definition abuse. You cannot simply use marijuana, as far as the federal government is concerned, because it’s a schedule one drug. So if you ain’t using it, you’re abusing it.
Who says? Well, NIDA, President Trump, the Democratic Party establishment (until just recently). I can hardly wait till they all can say: Wow, we have always been in favor of legalizing marijuana. Just like we are always in favor of gay marriage and we are always in favor of whatever senator, or whoever we’re always in favor of. Oh, yeah. They’ve always been. This is something that isn’t mainstream media per say. I mean, it’s Fox News, which is a huge organization that has something like 25 percent of the total viewership. Are they mainstream? How are they not?
And the fact of the matter is that for the most part, the one thing Fox News and MSNBC, CNN and all the others have in common is that they won’t talk about the drug war. They won’t talk about marijuana prohibition. The people on MSNBC can go into great scholarly length about everything that Donald Trump has ever done wrong. Somehow they don’t ever get around the marijuana prohibition. Look, we only arrested 600,000 people last year for marijuana prohibition. You know, that’s way down. It really is. But it’s still going on. Nobody believes it to be happening anymore. Nobody thinks people should be arrested for marijuana prohibition. Six hundred thousand people a year. And you will not find that one more quick today about that, is it? When I got to NORML in 1992, the previous national director had done some real homework and found out how many arrests were going on. Yeah, we put out a press release about how many arrests and it was totally ignored.
So what I did was start at the bottom (Of course, in those days we actually use things called paper to send out communications to people and they have fax machines and all that sort of thing.) We were very high tech. We would put the numbers on how many arrests there had been that year. It took years for anyone to ever mention that on the mainstream media. We could not get them to report on the number of people being arrested. You will hear, oh, fake news … you know, the left wing, the right wing media. Where do they all meet together? At the DEA.
Richard Cowan is a former director of NORML, and co-founder of CBD Seniors.