Thursday, February 11, 2010

Degrees in Medical Marijuana

On Tuesday, February 9, 2010, USA Today ran an article on their website entitled "As Attitudes Shift, Marijuana Classes Roll." The story focuses around classes at Oaksterdam University, Los Angeles, that teach about the marijuana plant. California is one of 14 states that allow marijuana for medicinal purposes, so the classes are meant to teach citizens about growing the plant legally. The reporter included a glimpse into who the students are within the classes and what they learn.

Looking at this article from an editorial position, the article appears amidst media attention to a California petition to legalize marijuana in every sense. My initial thought was that quotes or biographical information from participating students would have strengthened the story, before noticing this: "Many students, worried about legal uncertainties, did not want to be identified." While this one line explains to me why so few are included in this article, I felt this line blew a huge hole into the credibility of the story altogether. One of the points of the story is that marijuana has now become a topic that people are willing to talk about and even attend classes for, yet people don't want there to be repercussions for appearing in a story?

Looking at this article from a 20 something perspective, it does not seem to have a specific target audience. Though most of the sources are Oaksterdam school officials, their message is refreshing because they don't sound as rehearsed as typical university officials. The one question I am not completely sure was ever answered is: why should I care? I want the news to give me a reason to pay attention, but this article only gives me a weak attempt towards relatability using few sources that were actually students in the program. Legalizing medical marijuana came about through the efforts of the generation ahead of us, but simply legalizing marijuana will likely be up to my generation.

Take a look at the article, and let me know what you think:


  1. People don't want to be mentioned because they come from many different states to attend the classes. With only 14 states legalizing the use of medical marijuana, people have the right to be afraid. Growing it can lead to my legal problems and repercussions.

    Being a young student myself, trying to find ways to help those in need can be an important goal. Not to mention being able to make some money to pay off those large student loans. But I, myself, would be scared by any potential federal action made against me.

    There is only so much risk one is willing to take to make a difference. Despite this being my generation, it could take this one or maybe even the next.

  2. First, thanks for commenting!! I agree that it is completely possible that marijuana won't be legalized in this generation, but the fact that a petition to legalize the plant has been added to the November ballot in California tells me that the ball is rolling on the issue.
    Thanks for pointing out that people might not want to be identified because they came to classes from states where growing medical marijuana might not be legal- that's a point I hadn't thought of. However, simply refusing to comment in a story doesn't protect them from state or federal action- just saying.