Behind the Stories: How To Cover Cannabis

There’s momen­tum in Con­necti­cut to legal­ize mar­i­jua­na for recre­ation­al use. Con­necti­cut’s brand new gov­er­nor, Ned Lam­ont, has made legal­iza­tion a pri­or­i­ty for his administration.

It’s far from a done deal though. The change requires leg­isla­tive approval. And there are plen­ty of groups in Con­necti­cut opposed to the idea, cit­ing con­cerns about peo­ple dri­ving under the influ­ence, youth sub­stance use and pro­longed effects of mar­i­jua­na use. 

In Decem­ber 2018, our neigh­bor to the north — Mass­a­chu­setts — became the first state on the east coast to open up legal recre­ation­al pot shops. All the activ­i­ty and debate around mar­i­jua­na has opened up a new beat for local jour­nal­ists: ‘Cannabis Journalism.’

Dan Adams, Boston Globe

Dan Adams is a reporter who cov­ers cannabis for the Boston GlobeUConn Jour­nal­ism major Adam Hushin talked with Adams about what skills he uses to cov­er this new beat, and what chal­lenges a cannabis reporter may face. Adams was already report­ing on reg­u­lat­ed indus­tries as part of his beat, so the jour­nal­is­tic oppor­tu­ni­ty recre­ation­al pot pre­sent­ed was great for him. Adams also nar­rowed down the broad field of cannabis jour­nal­ism into much more spe­cif­ic beats a bud­ding reporter can focus on.

Pene­lope Over­ton, Port­land Press Herald

Pene­lope Over­ton is a staff writer for the Port­land Press Her­ald in Maine. She talked to UConn Jour­nal­ism major Con­nor Don­ahue about cov­er­ing two of the most inter­est­ing beats in Maine: the lob­ster busi­ness and the mar­i­jua­na business.

The fas­ci­nat­ing mix of a state pow­er­house indus­try like the lob­ster mar­ket along with the new­ly-emerg­ing mar­i­jua­na indus­try pro­vides thought-pro­vok­ing com­par­isons and a per­fect blend of old and new, Over­ton said. Over­ton joined the Port­land Press Her­ald in 2016. She’s cov­ered pol­i­tics, gov­ern­ment and the envi­ron­ment in Flori­da, Con­necti­cut, Ari­zona and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Andrew Matran­ga, Uni­ver­si­ty of Denver

The pod­cast also fea­tures an inter­view with Andrew Matran­ga, a jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Den­ver who is the orig­i­na­tor of the first col­lege course on cannabis jour­nal­ism.  Matran­ga explained what a col­lege jour­nal­ism class on the sub­ject of mar­i­jua­na entails. Matran­ga’s inspi­ra­tion for his course came from van­guard cannabis report­ing sources such as The Den­ver Post, as well as chang­ing leg­is­la­tion around the country.

Last­ly, we hear from Peter Api­cel­la, a UConn grad­u­ate stu­dent who is involved in the first-ever course at UConn to study the sci­ence behind cannabis hor­ti­cul­ture. The class got under­way in the Spring 2019 semes­ter. Api­cel­la offered ideas on how stu­dents inter­est­ed in careers around cannabis — includ­ing jour­nal­ists — can stay on fore­front of the industry.

Pho­to by Rober­to Val­divia on Unsplash