CA: Cannabis Coverage Coming To The U-T

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
California voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older when they passed Proposition 64 in November 2016. At the beginning of the new year, state officials must have regulations in place for this market that is expected to be huge.

The implications for the county, its cities and business will be immense. With that in mind, the Union-Tribune will dedicate a reporter to a cannabis beat. Current science writer Gary Robbins will take the helm.

Robbins has been a journalist for 40 years. He joined the U-T in 2010, after spending 25 years at the Orange County Register, where he also covered science. He has worked in Florida and Maine, and was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT during the 2000-01 academic year.

Besides California, recreational pot is legal in Washington state, Washington, D.C., Alaska, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada and Colorado. Maine voters also approved it, but Maine's governor on Friday stopped the law from taking effect.

The Denver Post has created a separate online publication called the Cannabist to cover recreational pot. It has a staff of editors, reporters and contributors, covering a variety of angles about marijuana – the business, trends, even reviews on cannabis food.

"The culture of cannabis, that's what we're here to talk about," reads the Cannabist's About Us entry on its website. "The Cannabist is a place of ideas, people, art, food and news. In this space we'll share stories of medical inspirations, basement hilarity, state house debates, earthy aromas, kitchen triumphs and more. As marijuana's coming-out continues, we'll report journalistically from our homebase in Denver, Colo. – the site of recreational marijuana's first legal sale in the modern world on Jan. 1, 2014. But our reach will span the globe as we address cannabis' ever-expanding role in our weekly lives via news coverage, pot-rooted recipes, arts features, strain and gear reviews, lifestyle profiles, business articles and more, more, more."

The U-T doesn't plan anything that ambitious, at least for now. But Robbins will be on the story for U-T readers.

He's looking to shape his coverage with extensive input from the community. Robbins said he's been talking to everyone from cannabis growers and retailers to consumers, educators, parents, physicians, law enforcement officers and scientists.

So far, he's reached out to UC San Diego scientists, he said, who are conducting a state-funded study to find better ways to determine if motorists are high on marijuana. He's also looking for people who can demonstrate safe ways to consume cannabis that is placed in various food products.

Robbins encourages anyone who wishes to discuss recreational and medical marijuana to contact him at

He said he wants to understand not only the effect of recreational cannabis in the county and California, but how what is happening here relates to what's occurring in other places.

Consent not necessary in news reports

Occasionally I will take a call or receive an email from a person upset that his or her name or image appears in a news report. Typically the person is referring to an item online that originally was published years ago.

They will say they never granted permission or did not sign a release form. However, news organizations are allowed to use names and images in news reports without a person's consent. Names and images used for entertainment or sales purposes, such as in a TV show or in an ad, require permission. News organizations, though, must use the names and images accurately.

Ethics also apply. For instance, reporters conducting interviews should clearly identify themselves and tell people their names could appear in a news report. Names should be withheld if a person might be endangered, such as in the case of a person who witnessed a gang shooting.

Reporting from public meetings and courtrooms or by using lawsuits or public documents can be done freely.

Images taken in public settings also can be used without consent in news reports.

With all that said, I believe reporters and editors should try, within reason, to reach a person who will appear in an article. But subjects should know, as well, that consent is not needed in news reports.


News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: The San Diego Union-Tribune - San Diego, California & National News
Author: Adrian Vore
Contact: Contact the Union-Tribune - The San Diego Union-Tribune
Photo Credit: Jim Brueckner
Website: The San Diego Union-Tribune - San Diego, California & National News
Top Bottom