Pro-pot advocates converged in front of the White House this weekend calling for the complete descheduling of cannabis and with only two citations handed out by police the rally did exactly what the group was hoping for – grabbed national media attention.
These news outlets focused on numbers of arrests and the big balloon instead of federal government’s ban of scientific research due to the Controlled Substances Act.
Their lack of in-depth reporting on the cannabis beat is obvious to anyone covering the industry.
Here are the reasons why national news outlets just aren’t getting it:
They covered the protest like a local event instead of a national movement
No quotes from other marijuana organizations not supporting the protest
Federal bans on smoking, not local are applicable to this protest
No mention of what it would actually take to reschedule pot
Ignored current polls and stories putting cannabis in a positive light
News outlets failed to report that federal law enforcement can arrest anyone possessing any amount of marijuana on federal property, including the White House grounds and Lafayette Square — which is the national park directly in front of the White House.
Instead, they focused on D.C.’s two-ounce rule which is not applicable to the venue.
Click here for a complete map of federal land and parks in D.C.)
I spoke to a policy official at The Marijuana Policy Project and asked point blank – why won’t you support DCMJ’s protest? MPP politely said they would rather not comment on other organizations.
By them saying nothing, they are saying a lot. Basically, there are a lot of different ways to handle marijuana reform and the mainstream news didn’t run with any of these different story angles.
The mainstream news also neglected to mention what it would take to reschedule marijuana. Both rescheduling marijuana to a less restrictive category of drugs and completely removing it from the banned substances list requires a lot of cooperation at the executive level of Obama’s administration.
A topic I’ve written about at length in previous articles, the expert consensus on rescheduling marijuana is that Congressional action is the most likely path to change.
RELATED ARTICLE: Rescheduling Cannabis: It’s Not A Matter Of If, But When
Scientists, entrepreneurs, and advocates in the cannabis industry agree the plant is stigmatized from the fear-mongering propaganda from the days of Harry Anslinger, America’s first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and the Nixon and Reagan administration’s War on Drugs.
However, in recent years, there’s been a huge shift in public opinion — and that could be the catalyst for Congressional action. A new poll released last month has support for legalizing marijuana reaching an all-time high of 61 percent of the country. That majority could mean more lawmakers coming out in support of rescheduling bills such as the CARERS Act.
But you won’t hear about any of that in a cannabis story written by CNN or AP.
As demonstrated by the marijuana protest this weekend, a 51-foot superficial joint will ignite the media but only Congressional action will spark real policy change.
Chloe Sommers is the Executive Editor of the Never Daunted Radio Network. You can reach her on Twitter @ChloePalma