TorStar Needs Toking Editor Not Token Columnist

When it comes to pot reporting Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno finds funny ways to get her knickers in a knot. Her latest screed, Marijuana beat shows the papers are going to pot, lacks substance and takes an entrenched uninformed position.

DiManno refers to the Denver Post marijuana editor position as, “a novel new beat.” I call it a spin-off job that wouldn’t exist without Colorado’s legalization.

As a marijuana writer (Green Candy Press / NOW / Cannabis Culture) I’m offended at the idea reefer reporting is any less challenging than health, court, police and city hall beats. Even the soft beats, entertainment and sports are touched upon by toking.

The Denver Post’s new marijuana editor needs experience in all these areas because legalization overlaps all beats. They also need to understand synergy of social media, traditional print and online to be editorial effective.

The new editor is not covering one specific area, but a subject matter that is exceedingly extensive and has been so badly reported on it’s going to take a ganja genius to correct. DiManno has taken her share of uninformed pot shots – even going to Amsterdam to spend some of The Toronto Star investigative money on bud back when newspapers’ were profitable.

“I was taken aback, on my last trip to Amsterdam — where soft drugs are legal, marijuana and hash for sale in drug cafés — at how very stupid much of the mellowed-out adult populace had become, so sluggish, slack, slothful. The potency of these `soft drugs’ has increased dramatically, as laced as they are with THC.”

“This is not your father’s ganja, as I discovered while on assignment for a story about legalizing drugs. (It took me three days to recover from my `research’).”

Marijuana for depression is well beyond Rosie’s grasp, but this could be because marijuana makes her “staggeringly stupid” and other weed heads, in her opinion, are dulards too. Doesn’t my St. Clair College Journalism diploma and my Humber School for Writers Creative Writing diploma demonstrate otherwise?

Rosie’s column makes me wonder if she didn’t inhale beforehand because it’s tragically flawed. This isn’t virgin turf, as DiManno pens. I’ve been writing about cannabis frequently for NOW since 2002 and several Colorado newspapers have made hires long before the Post advertised their position.

DiManno writes about plunging newspaper profits and layoffs across the industry and appears aghast somewhere the Denver Post publisher found funds for, “a novel new beat.”

It must be beyond her grasp marijuana legalization created a gig in the ailing newspaper industry. Several jobs from what I can tell. Legalization may create even more jobs in the ailing newspaper industry as marijuana advertising begins to roll in.

A true reporter, say someone who would be a great marijuana editor, can do a quick Google search to determine since 2010 alt-weekly newspapers in legalization states have been profitable because of pot ads. An even better reporter would then call the publishers’ for quotes.

Denver’s Westword is chock full of weed ads and prints a pull out full color guide for their summer issue. Fifteen per cent of Westword’s advertising revenue comes from marijuana related business and 40% of their classified revenue are pot related too.

According to The New York Times , The Colorado Springs Independent back in 2010 hired one full time reporter and promoted three part time reporters to full time because of marijuana advertising.

“Medical marijuana has been a revenue blessing over and above what we anticipated,” said John Weiss, the founder and publisher of The Independent, a free weekly. “This wasn’t in our marketing plan a year ago, and now it is about 10 percent of our paper’s revenue.”

DiManno’s disdain for cannabis people is clearly evident because a dullard blogging for Cannabis Culture caught her with her head down in the neutral zone over a key fact – newspapers with cannabis advertising are profitable. A fact Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank might want to investigate further for profitability sakes.

The editorial department is a little slim these days according to Rosie, but I think it’s up to her to investigate key facts. Only her dislike of potheads explains how a seasoned reporter misses a fact (published in New York Times no less) alt weekly newspaper profits are up in states where marijuana is exceedingly accessible.

Matt Mernagh is a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. His debut book from Green Candy Press, Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains is available from Amazon, iTunes or Indigo.

Matt Mernagh
Matt Mernagh

Matt Mernagh is author of Marijuana Smoker's Guidebook The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains ( by Green Candy Press and hosts a weekly weedy webcast The Menahuana Zone on Pot.TV every Tuesday. The Mernagh Ruling is a test case of Canada's cannabis laws and was spearheaded by Mernagh, lawyer Paul Lewin and 22 witnesses from across Canada.