Fortune: Marijuana Media Goes Mainstream


To anyone paying attention, marijuana has gone mainstream in virtually all aspects of our culture: in opinion polls to the ballot box to our music to TV shows to the silver screen. Dr. Sanjay Gupta made national news with his “evolution” on cannabis, President Obama is forced to ask questions about marijuana policy and the 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential candidates will all be put on the record as well.  Print media has jumped on board in recent years as the print media loses circulation, marijuana has become a sexy headline, an opportunity for advertising dollars and internet click bait.

The recent International Cannabis Business Conference featured a marijuana media panel that included representatives from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Smell the Truth and the Denver Post’s The Cannabist. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference featured a broad spectrum of the marijuana media, from longtime activist Doug McVay, who hosts the Drug War Facts Podcast; to Russ Belville,  who hosts an internet program every weekday and has blazed the path for 24/7 marijuana coverage with; and Noelle Crombie, marijuana beat writer for The Oregonian, who covers cannabis as a serious policy issue for the Northwest’s most-circulated newspaper.

Fortune has certainly noticed the mainstreaming of marijuana media with the piece, “Marijuana media is buzzing as legal pot gains territory“:

Several nationally-read newspapers and magazines(including Fortune) have devoted plenty of ink to the cannabis industry. Last year, The New York Timesendorsed marijuana legalization and later ran a full-page ad for a website, Leafly, a Yelp-like service for reviewing marijuana strains and dispensaries. The industry is also well-represented on television, where cable news networks CNN, CNBC and MSNBC have all produced recent series focused on the marijuana industry.


Last month, the first issue of SF Evergreen featured a cover story on California’s lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, with the headline “Citizen Cannabis.” Newsom is a pro-pot politician who plans to run for governor of the state in 2018. SF Evergreen publisher Ari Spanier and editor Chris Roberts said a lot of SF Evergreen’s energy over the next few years will go toward covering the budding political battle over attempts to legalize recreational marijuana in California, where medical pot has been legal for nearly two decades.

The magazine’s parent company is well aware of the print media’s struggles. Recently, it shuttered its long-running and money-losing alternative paper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian. While San Francisco Media Company insists that the new magazine is not a replacement for the Guardian, Spanier and Roberts are adamant that launching a marijuana-focused publication — with a website updated every weekday — is a fairly obvious move in an area where cannabis has been a part of the culture since the flower power era and now boasts 30 medical marijuana dispensaries.

While many within the cannabis community are rightly distrustful of the mainstream media and I do agree that we always should remain a skeptic and be vigilant, I welcome the mainstreaming of marijuana, in the media and elsewhere. While there is a romanticism to being a rebel or an outlaw or a nonconformist, we must always remember that there is still the barbaric practice of locking people in cages for cannabis, despite what some prohibitionists may claim. Many people, especially those of color and of low income, are still targeted and are having their lives ruined for activities that those in liberal cannabis law locales take for granted. As a Missouri transplant in Oregon for the past decade, I cannot forget the cannabis community back in the Show-Me State or in Oklahoma or Texas, or anyone living under the fear of draconian penalties. The only way for true freedom across the nation is for marijuana to go mainstream. And if that is what it takes, then mainstream is fine by me.


Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s ca