A Media Breakthrough?

Mar 25, 2009

Bruce Mirken, marijuana, Media

Something is stirring in the U.S. news media that I was beginning to think I'd never see: In last two or three months, a complete rethinking of our marijuana laws has become a legitimate issue in the eyes of the mainstream media -- something it hasn't been for a long time.

To illustrate how big this is, let me take you back to early 2002, shortly after I started as MPP's communications director. The first time I ever called CNN to try to pitch them a story on marijuana policy, it went like this:

I said, "Hello, this is Bruce Mirken from the Marijuana Policy Project --" and the woman who answered the phone burst out laughing. She had to put me on hold for a minute to compose herself. When she came back on the line, she said, "Okay Mr. Marijuana, what can I do for you?" While this was not the actual producer I was trying to reach, she was the one you had to get through in order to speak to that person. And I never got through. 

Things have changed. 

Earlier this month, CNN called me to set up an interview with D.L. Hughley about marijuana prohibition. That interview is currently set to air this weekend on what turns out to be the final episode of "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. Eastern and 7 p.m. Pacific and repeats on Sunday (though TV news schedules have a way of changing at the last minute). This comes on the heels of appearances by MPP executive director Rob Kampia and myself on CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News, among others.

Meanwhile, columns and editorials questioning prohibition seem to be nearly everywhere in recent weeks, including the Providence Journal, CNN's Web site, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times and many other outlets.

What was once dismissed as a fringe issue is suddenly mainstream.