Accuracy in Media

As many as 100,000 potheads were expected over the weekend at the Hempfest in Seattle, Washington, to celebrate the use of a drug that makes one unable to think clearly.  One of the speakers, Reverend Levon the Lion of the “Church of Cognitive Therapy,” claims a “religious and spiritual entitlement” to marijuana. It would be laughable were it not for the fact that marijuana is also being sold to the gullible as something that supposedly has medical benefits. Now it is supposed to have spiritual benefits? Some people will say anything to justify getting high.

The common assumption is that marijuana is at least a harmless drug. But that is a dangerous and false assumption. The new scientific volume, Marijuana and Madness, edited by David Castle and Robin Murray, features much of the evidence. Titles of the chapters include “Cannabis and Psychosis Proneness,” and “Cannabis as a Potential Causal Factor in Schizophrenia.” The American Journal of Psychiatry comments that “The editors and publishers of this book have responded to a need for clear, research-based information on a topic of great current concern. They have done an excellent job.” The book is published by Cambridge University Press.

Just before the Seattle Hempfest was held, it was reported that NFL star Randy Moss had admitted to the HBO Real Sports show to using pot over a period of several years. Two years ago he was charged with marijuana possession after he was arrested for pushing a traffic agent a half-block with his car. In 1996, when playing college football, he tested positive for smoking marijuana. Incredibly, Moss told HBO that he doesn’t abuse marijuana but only has “fun” with it. At the same time, he doesn’t let it “take control over me.”

Moss’ erratic behavior over the years and bizarre comments to HBO may bring attention to the fact that the use of marijuana is increasingly being linked to various mental problems. It’s a topic the media usually shy away from.

The influence of marijuana figures in a sensational Alaska case involving Colin Roger Cotting, a 16-year-old who police say beat his stepmother to death after she confronted him about smoking pot. He is accused of raping her before beating her to death. Then he stuffed her dead body into a freezer. When originally asked about the crime, he reportedly responded that he was “too stoned” to remember what had happened.

Yet the media are increasingly presenting potheads and even pot dealers as respectable people you should consider having as neighbors next door. The latest example is the “Weeds” program on the Showtime cable channel.

Entertainment Weekly magazine describes the series as controversial, “not because it’s about a suburban mom who makes ends meet by dealing marijuana but because it refuses to judge her behavior.” This marks the first time that a television show has depicted dope-dealing as perfectly acceptable.

In the Louisville Courier-Journal, reporter Tamara Ikenberg quotes pro-pot activists as saying they are pleased, for the most part, with the new wave of onscreen pot smokers. “Unlike the munchie-prone misfits of the past, many of today’s TV tokers are taxpaying family folks with careers and brains,” she reports.

Steve Bloom, editor of High Times magazine, was quoted by Ikenberg as saying that the new “Weeds” show on Showtime “represents the TV industry mirroring what’s happening in society.” He explained that “A lot of the writers, directors and producers, probably a lot of them smoke marijuana, probably a lot of them deep down would like to see the laws changed, so they’re pushing the envelope by including storylines with marijuana. They want to see it more normalized on TV, and that would hopefully usher in some slight change in society’s view of marijuana.”

This is about as honest as a pro-marijuana activist can get. In effect, he’s saying the media are pushing pot on television because they smoke it themselves.

Bloom is concerned about how his own magazine, which glorifies dope smoking, is portrayed as well. He contacted us when we wrote about how Ed Rosenthal of High Times magazine had joked to a pro-pot audience that he smoked marijuana to deal with his glaucoma, although his glaucoma was “latent” and hadn’t even been diagnosed. He had let the cat out of the bag?that medical marijuana was a hoax to justify getting high.  Bloom wanted us to know that Rosenthal wasn’t associated with High Times when he made those revealing comments. So even High Times has professional journalism standards. Indeed, a former High Times editor now works at AARP The Magazine, where he became a spokesman for a poll insisting that seniors also support the “medical marijuana” hoax. 

The media’s pro-pot bias can be seen in how the major media ignored the comments of Rosenthal and others, documented in a video released by the anti-drug group, Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMAD).

Thanks to Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, we have some additional documentation about the media’s pro-pot bias.

At a NORML conference two years ago, during a candid moment when he was boasting of the power of the pro-pot lobby, he named several television programs that he said had portrayed marijuana in a “positive” manner. He said they included ER, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Sybil, Murphy Brown, Sports Night, Becker, West Wing, Roseanne, Sex in the City, Six Feet Under, Whoopi, Montel, That 70s Show, and the Larry David show.

St. Pierre said, “These shows are seen by tens of millions of people. So that’s why it’s so crucial that we’re able to capture?and to demonstrate the change in?culture.”

Viacom, which owns Showtime, is a big media conglomerate. It also owns the CBS television network and MTV. Don’t look for any of the Viacom properties or other media for that matter to do a story about how “weed” cost the life of the stepmother of Colin Roger Cotting. Also, don’t look for any made-for-television movies about how the Red Lake student killer in Minnesota, who killed nine people before committing suicide, was an admitted “stoner” and pothead.

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