Despite a strong injection of reason and fact into the cannabis debate by the media in the late 1960s and 1970s, the national media has largely failed to distinguish marijuana prohibition from the broader drug war hysteria, which sold more copy in the 1980s.
Hemp activists have been ignored, their events censored and excluded from calendar listingseven paid advertisements about events or legal, non-smoking hemp products are refused by news sources. What ever happened to fact checking?
Instead of serving as the probing watchdogs of government and keepers of the public trust, corporate news groups regard themselves as the profit-making tool for forging consensus on national policy.
Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.
President Jimmy Carter
August 2, 1977
According to groups like Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and researchers like Ben Bakdikian and Michael Parenti, these corporations define and protect the national interestoften meaning their own vested financial interests and political agendas. It must be remembered that many of the largest publishers have direct holdings in timberland for paper development, and the pharmaceutical drug, petrochemical companies, etc. are among the medias major advertisers.
In an article published in the L.A. Times Magazine May 7, 1989, entitled Nothing Works, (and since mimicked in hundreds of magazines, including Time and Newsweek), Stanley Meiseler laments the problem facing schools in drug education programs and inadvertently reveals the news medias own assumptions and bias:
Critics believe that some education programs have been crippled by exaggerating the dangers of drugs. Principles and teachers, watched closely by city officials, feel pressured not to teach pupils that marijuana, although harmful,* is less addicting than cigarettes. Failure to acknowledge such information means school programs can lose credibility. But more honest programs could be even more harmful. (Emphasis added.)
The harm he predicts is an expected increase in consumption when people learn the health benefits and lack of physical or psychological risks involved with cannabis consumption. Many persons decide that they prefer pot (which apparently does not need to advertise) to alcohol and tobacco, for which so many advertising dollars are spent.
* No specific studies showing the alleged harmful effects were cited in the article. In fact, cannabis was barely mentioned except for this reference and a note that detoxification businesses report some success in breaking a mild dependence on marijuana and alcohol.
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