A discussion on the impact of the media on the public opinion of cannabis

It is no secret that the media typically uses sensationalism, hype, and propaganda in their discussions of hot button topics like marijuana to sway public opinion towards a particular stance, most often to keep marijuana illegal.  This type of journalism has a name – “yellow journalism” – and it has been used to vilify marijuana for ages.    Here are some interesting notes about how marijuana has been represented in the media in the past and the trouble we face in the fight to inform the public on the benefits of marijuana:

– The early 1936 film, Reefer Madness, was a wholly exaggerated and fictitious look at the depravity of a ‘marijuana’ user’s mind.  It featured drug dealing, luring teens into addiction, drug-crazed murder and rape, characters getting into trouble with the law, and a disdain for the popular ‘new age’ jazz music of the time.  It painted its characters as degenerate wastes and had a large impact on the public’s opinion at the time establishing a negative view of cannabis in America that the industry continually  fights to shake off.

– Typical 420 coverage rarely involves the actual issue of legalization or medicinal benefits or makes claims that are completely one-sided. Cannabis Activist, Tracy Curley says “dispensaries have been vilified for not testing their products. [But] just a few weeks ago we found out that legal producers who have vilified those dispensaries in the media don’t test either… Yet they were allowed to outright lie in the media without checks or balances.”

– In Danielle McCrea’s experience as a Cannabis Activist, she has found that “[e]very time we mention LPs and the Liberal government in bed together the media edits that out. They edit their stories so much that by the third or fourth time around each story is played, they’ve (for example, CP24) edited it completely out… So I feel it’s a media blackout by the liberal government – by NOT letting us know that they’re very attached to the licensed producers.”

– While Cannabis remains illegal , those who do believe in the benefits of cannabis and know first-hand still find in hard to be open about their own consumption and personal benefits because stigma still persists.  This makes it even more difficult for the average person to become informed unless they have friends who share their experiences with them.

– Recently, Health Canada aired a brief ad of caution against the use of marijuana featuring an image of a decaying brain lending a powerful visual to the claim that “marijuana diminishes IQ and rots the brain.”

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