Mainstream Media Looks At Marijuana Prohibition

As if this month was not busy enough with the arrival of Barack Obama to the White House and an ever-growing popular buzz about the need for cannabis law reform all over the media and internet, three major MSM outlets are scheduled to broadcast prime time specials examining aspects of cannabis prohibition.

On Friday, January 16, the venerable NBC news show Dateline has scheduled an hour-long profile of the tragic death of Florida college student Rachel Hoffman. Ms. Hoffman was arrested with cannabis and unfortunately trusted local police to become an undercover informant, which ultimately led to her murder. Her shocking death has forced Florida law enforcement to re-examine the use of confidential informants in drug cases and raised the question publicly about decriminalizing cannabis for adult use. (UPDATE: The Dateline NBC story about Rachel Hoffman will not be aired tonight as originally scheduled. The hour-long program is being preempted by coverage of yesterday’s airplane crash in New York City. Rachel’s story will be rescheduled, though the date is not yet known: )

ABC 20/20 correspondent John Stossel’s investigative unit is going to cast its usually critical eye at government overreach and wasteful spending, this time specifically towards the noted case of medical cannabis provider Charles Lynch. By all media accounts and advanced in his legal defense, Mr. Lynch was operating a ‘Main Street’ medical cannabis dispensary in Santa Barbara, California in compliance with local and state medical cannabis laws. However, the federal government continues to selectively arrest and prosecute medical cannabis providers under federal laws. Mr. Lynch’s appeal for a new trial has been rejected and he now potentially faces a mandatory five-year sentence at an upcoming sentencing hearing. Depending on the editing process, the story will likely broadcast either Friday the 9th or 16th @ 10PM (eastern).

Business network CNBC has produced an one-hour special called Marijuana, Inc. to premiere at 9 pm (eastern), January 22. Fascinated by the multi-billion untaxed, unregulated cannabis business in the United States, notably on the west coast, producers fanned out to interview cultivators, medical cannabis dispensary owners, middle-class cannabis consumers and of course law enforcement.

Lastly, NORML hears whispers of a major piece about cannabis prohibition being researched for publication at America’s largest Sunday newspaper circulation drop-in, Parade.

– Article from the NORML Blog on January 9, 2009.