Denver Post reporter consistently frames marijuana issue
The current issue of medical marijuana has been a very central one for people in Colorado for the past couple of years. Since the passing of the initial bill that made it legal, there have been many debates and revisions to the bill. One journalist for the Denver Post, John Ingold, has been tracking the issue since its start, and his opinions appear (although subtly) through the way he frames his stories.
On February 11th, the Denver Post published another article written by Ingold about the public hearing about proposed revisions to the medical marijuana regulation bill. The debate about the bill had begun with certain proposed changes to the industry, but the bill had been rewritten to deal with other issues.
It is clear the framing approach that Ingold takes, and that he is personally in favor of the medicinal marijuana industry and sides with marijuana activists. His word choice portrays his attitude when he claims the initial changes would have been “industry-friendly,” going on to claim these changes would have been “making it easier for felons to own dispensaries and exempting long-standing dispensaries from buffer-zone rules around schools.” It is clear by his choice of the word “friendly” that he thinks any expansions to the industry would only boost it and the Colorado economy. He goes on to say that Republican Rep. Tom Massey “quickly announced that he had rewritten the bill. Gone were the loosened restrictions on felons. Gone was the grandfathering of dispensaries in buffer zones.” Ingold’s personal grief feels palpable in this statement. At the end of his article he states that, “the bill still loosens some regulations.” His use of the word “still” indicates a slight tone of hope and encouragement for marijuana activists, like himself.
Also, it seems to me that Ingold uses the views of the marijuana activists that attended the hearing to mask/voice his own opinion. Once again, his word choice indicates his standing on the issue. He says the bill “outraged” marijuana activists, and in expressing their opinions to the court he says “they criticized” and “they blasted proposed…regulations.” He uses such colorful verbs and explanations for the activists’ side of the story, but the state/federal side is more monotonous in syntax.
The way Ingold frames this story affects the way the topic is covered because he puts Colorado citizens in an “Us vs. Them” situation, wherein the Colorado marijuana activists are the “us” and the state and federal law makers are the “them.” Ingold even uses the words “Colorado’s medical-marijuana wars,” indicating a serious fission between the two sides. But Ingold’s mistake is that he completely forgets about the other side of the issue, in his excitement for the progress of this new industry.
A more fair and balanced view would mean that Ingold would not just mention the proposed regulation changes, but perhaps try to understand and explain how these rules would fit into Colorado’s society and why they may even be considered necessary in the first place. Despite being a growing and promising industry that could help many, when it comes down to it, marijuana is still a mind-altering drug and its regulation should be carefully considered, aside from business visions. Is it really justified to have a marijuana club in such close proximity to a school just because the club has been established there for a couple years? True, it may be good for the business and industry of medicinal marijuana and perhaps the state’s economy, but at the expense of our social norms? Ingold needs to exercise his full journalistic practices to touch on the law side of this industry that seems to excite him so much.