Colorado made history in 2012 when it became one of the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The Denver Post soon followed suit and became the first major American newspaper to have a marijuana editor. The paper tapped longtime music journalist Ricardo Baca to cover the cannabis beat for its new vertical: The Cannabist.
Having dedicated journalists on the marijuana beat heralded a new era of cannabis coverage. For decades, mainstream media outlets relied on law enforcement sources as drug “experts” who inevitably overstated of the dangers of weed. Lacking expertise, those that covered the occasional pot story would unwittingly advance drug-war propaganda. Then there were the niche, counter-cultural publications like High Times. In the past, no major newsroom found the subject serious or newsworthy enough to dedicate a reporter to the beat, much less an entire team. Now, The Cannabist’s entire editorial staff has been let go.
Building out a cannabis vertical paid off in terms of journalism. Eschewing industry cheerleading that is often found at marijuana publications, The Cannabist filled an important role in keeping the industry accountable. The site exposed the presence of banned pesticides in marijuana products, propelling an investigation from the state Department of Environmental Health. [Read more at Forbes]