Cannabis is rich territory for serious journalism. It stands at the intersection of health, science, and promising advances in medicine. It is also the center of a booming billion-dollar industry, and it raises vital questions about regulation, technology, law, criminal justice, and individual liberties.
This publication, Cannabis Wire, will address such questions in all their intriguing complications.
Our 2014 book, A New Leaf, opens with this first line, chosen carefully: “Another prohibition is ending.” The book documented how the U.S. and other countries were moving toward cannabis legalization. Our core question was, How did we get here? Now, as both the legalization movement and the industry gain steam, comes a new question: How is this legalization experiment unfolding?
The goal: through consistent, comprehensive analysis and nonpartisan reporting, Cannabis Wire aims to be the go-to source of information for every citizen who votes, industry members, journalists, academics, and researchers alike—all of whom need accurate and unbiased coverage to take a productive part in this timely discussion.
The beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition hasn’t been smooth. As of this writing, in the fall of 2015, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have medical cannabis laws, while four others and Washington, D.C. permit all adults twenty-one and over to possess and consume cannabis for recreation. In fact, cannabis laws in the United States are a dysfunctional patchwork, with four stances toward the plant:
- Personal use cannabis (also known as recreational use, or non-medical use) resembles the alcohol system in which anyone age 21 or older can participate. (Each state has its own possession limits, tax structures, rules about home growing, etc.)
- Medical cannabis allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain cannabis by growing their own, asking a caregiver to grow for them, or buying at a dispensary.
- Decriminalization is usually the great reduction–i.e. a small fine, no record–or removal of penalties. (Those caught may still have a record in some states with “decrim” laws passed in the 70s.)
- Prohibition entails total illegality with criminal and financial penalties.
Indeed, in Colorado millionaires are made while in Kansas cannabis consumers are jailed.
At the national level, Cannabis Wire will cover the variety of difficult dissonances that arise from the disagreement between state and federal laws, and will document the national conversations as policy continues to evolve.
At the state level, Cannabis Wire will focus on the “how” of legalization in hopes that voters will become more active in a debate that all too often bypasses them, as the industry and its regulators, advocates and opponents, trade shots. This will encompass everything from advertising restrictions and DUI standards to where millions in pot tax revenue could best be spent for a state’s citizens.
And, perhaps most importantly, Cannabis Wire will be the industry watchdog in a new space shared by those who desire regulation and those who exploit the grey areas. As the foundation for the industry is laid, this site will fact-check claims and note best practices.
Stay tuned as Cannabis Wire documents this historic change—the end of a prohibition and the birth of an industry.