Cannabis Still Hot Debate Topic On Mass Opinion Pages

“The column provided a good example of the importance of making decisions based on facts, not fallacies or misinformation.”

First of all, you won’t catch me mocking print newspapers and their online counterparts, so apologies if you came to this post for that. A lot of legacy outlets, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, are certainly stodgy enterprises that are all-too-willing to lend their pages to prohibitionists; still; news is critical no matter where it comes from, and most importantly, people who vote and make decisions in communities still read them.

Needless to say, the voices that emerge to address cannabis news in said outlets—particularly on their opinion pages—tend to suck. Dogshit polemicists who still have bones to pick from legislation that voters approved more than six years ago, they lie and cheat and cherry pick until they hit their word count, only to be outmatched by readers who are even less informed in the comments and on social media.

You may have suspected that the Lowell Sun, hardly a historical friend to the leaf, is among the venues I am here to call out (nevermind that I was served an ad for a local dispensary on their site while researching this post). Jacob Vitali over there responded to recent news that middle school students in Boston consumed infused chocolate and became sick with a column that for his sake I hope was written by a conservative AI bot on putz mode (title: “Adults’ marijuana use comes with a caveat”). While I initially wrote that last sentence as a joke, looking at his bullet pointed rant again I think it may be artificial after all, though miles short of intelligent.

Meanwhile, over at the Daily News on the North Shore, contributing columnist Allan Jason took issue with a handout passed around by Newburyport City Councilor Jennie Donahue noting “the opening of retail pot shops in Massachusetts has resulted in ‘no negative impacts on the surrounding businesses or larger community, no increase in crime in the immediate surrounding areas.’” In the piece, titled “Just say no to Port pot shops,” Jason quipped, “You would have to be high as a kite to believe that one.”

With such clever rhetorical stingers in his quiver, you can imagine where Jason takes it from there. Fortunately, Councilor Donahue clapped back in a subsequent column:

The column provided a good example of the importance of making decisions based on facts, not fallacies or misinformation. Anti-cannabis hysteria has been around since the 1930s, and Newburyport officials and residents should recognize it when they see it.

Mr. Jason’s inaccuracies began in his first sentence. The forum was not co-hosted by a member of the Cannabis Control Commission, nor did any member of the CCC even attend. The president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association did attend and spoke — accurately— about the successful track record of legal cannabis sales in Massachusetts since 2018.

And so on … 

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