Last month, news broke that the Denver Post would be creating a “marijuana editor” position in response to Colorado’s impending, full-blown legalization of the drug (it was one of two states to do so in recent elections). Lots of jokes followed, inevitably (and we still maintain we’d love to sift through the stack of rejected cover letters), so much so that it required this sort of bittersweet New York Times follow-up in which the paper and its newly-hired weed editor insist that they’re actually very serious about this. “We’re taking an extremely credible, professional approach to this,” explained Ricardo Baca, who was appointed to the position after years as a music and entertainment editor for the paper (he also launched their music festival, the Underground Music Showcase). “I was surprised that it was such an immediate punch line.”
“Surprising” is a strong word—people never seem to get tired of stoner jokes—but the degree of “LOL those crazy Colorado hippies” commentary has been a little over the top. If you think about it, they’d actually be a little remiss if they didn’t create some kind of position or department to deal with a massive, totally unprecedented ongoing local news development. Or as the Post’s editor put it, “It’s going to affect politics, culture, crime, food. The world is going to be watching us and we really want to do a great job on this story.”
They’re already facing a statewide weed shortage on the eve of its official legalization on January 1st, sitting on the front lines of policy that could massively overhaul America’s broken prison system, and even looking into recipes for “marijuana-infused zucchini bread.” (They’ve also updated staff drug use guidelines, and Baca has vowed to “never come to work stoned [or] write anything under the influence.”) Maybe it’s time to stop tittering and listen to what they have to say?
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.