Will reporters have to stay pot-free in Colorado? Not at Westword

romenesko.jpg
Jim Romenesko.
The query came from Jim Romensko, who covers media across the country: "Hi Patti, I'm checking to see how Colorado news outlets are responding to the relaxed marijuana law. Have you screened new hires in the past? If so, will you hire journalists who smoke marijuana on their own time and, thus, 'fail' the drug test? Thanks. Jim."

At Westword , where we have the country's first medical-marijuana critic on staff, the question was laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, critic William Breathes reports that's just what he did when I forwarded it to him.

But there's nothing funny about the question of whether medical-marijuana patients can be punished by their workplace for using pot -- off the job or on in Colorado, where a paralyzed DISH service rep was fired for a positive drug test. And now the issue will get even stickier.

Here's Romensko's piece on reporters and pot use:


Will Colorado and Washington news organizations hire pot smokers?

Letter to Romenesko

A READER WRITES: Was wondering if you could offer insight or question the industry's approach to piss tests as they relate to pot in light of the approved measures in Colorado and Washington state?

Is a positive pot result a deal breaker these days?

I wonder how the news media in those states will handle it and what, if any, the ripple effect will be.

To be clear, I'd like to keep my name out of it and also any info that could ID me or the paper I work for now.

Seattle Times spokesperson Jill Mackie tells me: "Our policy is not changing. ...Our existing policy expects our employees to be free of alcohol and any other drug while at work." What if an employee enjoys a joint after work? "I can't speak to the details of how that's going to change," she says.

At the Denver Post, "we haven't decided yet" whether to change the screening policy now that marijuana use is legal in Colorado, says HR assistant Cindy Uribe.

"We've never drug tested," says Westword publisher Patricia Calhoun. "And we have reporters -- including our pot critic -- who smoke marijuana on the job. Oh, and we're currently doing a series of blog posts in which the writers get stoned with local artists and musicians."

I'm checking with other news organizations and will update this post. I invite journalists from Washington and Colorado to post their policies in comments.

In case you've missed our getting stoned series, the pieces are running on Show and Tell and Backbeat, our arts and music blogs. Find them here.

From our archives: "William Breathes looks back on three years as the country's first pot critic."




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48 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Woody Paige pleading w/ the Post, " The black guys on the ESPN show held a gun to my head ! ", following providing a hot UA to the newspaper . Or a contact high from the Nuggets locker room ....

Chad Kopecky
Chad Kopecky

Can think of of cool things to write about like "Bounce it off a gringo first". Is a funny companion piece to "Ask a Mexican".

BoulderCritic
BoulderCritic

@DenverWestword Do you just have a robot that retweets the same links over and over for weeks on end? That's not how you use twitter, idiots

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

PLEASE HIRE ROBERT CHASE !!!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Explains the quality of "journalism" at WW ....

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

wow, you guys are making donkeyhotay sound like a ray of sunshine. Just curious, Corey: What did you think about last year's cover story on you? Journalism or not?

South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

Why are you surprised, Corey Donahue, that reporters don't actually report the news anymore, or do any investigative reporting? News organizations have fallen on hard times with all the free news on the internets, so WW doesn't want to piss off it's Golden Goose, medical marijuana distributors, who are almost the only new advertisers WW has had in 3 years.  Not only does WW not investigate these all-important conversations between our governor and the feds, they don't investigate any Open Meetings violations of the task force sub-committees that are assigned to writing all the regulations for all cannabis in the state. If WW wanted to, they could file an Open Records request to get ALL the conversations that any state official has had with the feds regarding marijuana or medical marijuana. I guarantee that they would find some juicy nuggets there. The state Department of Revenue has admitted on multiple occasions that they give ANY AND ALL of the information on "legal" medical marijuana distribution (who, how much, where) to the FEDERAL Drug Enforcement Administration on the DEA's request. Who knows when the DEA will use this information. It took them several years to go after the first mmj "regulation" program in the country, in Mendocino, CA, where the sheriff's office was issuing zip ties for the plants of "legal" medical marijuana growers. Well, now the DEA has decided to go after these "legal" growers, and has subpoenaed all the sheriff's records of these citizens, and convened a federal grand jury to issue indictments.

But life is great for Patty Calhoun, who can hide her head in the sand and pretend like everything is nice and pretty in Colorado. Her former "medical marijuana critic" is now doing a column, "Ask a Stoner", so she has no compunction whatsoever about revealing that her supposed "legitimate" medical patient Willy Breathes is actually just a typical stoner trying to defraud the medical system so he can "legally" smoke dope.


CoreyDonahue
CoreyDonahue

"We've never drug tested," says Westword publisher Patricia Calhoun. "And we have reporters -- including our pot critic -- who smoke marijuana on the job. Oh, and we're currently doing a series of blog posts in which the writers get stoned with local artists and musicians."

This is such a great story Patti!!! Wow!!! OMG!!! This is journilism!!! Woodward and Bernstein would be proud!!!! Compleatly ignore the fact that the Governor Nixonlooper and the federal government had a conversation 1 week after A64 was pass and print a story of how your so cool and how great everything is at the Westword becasue you can get hard stories of people smoking cannabis with each other. Because that is what real reporters report on. Your editoral skill are amazing, they should change the Pulitzer to the Patti becasue damn you ask thehard questions like.

WHERE IS THECONVERSATION BETWEEN NIXONLOOPER AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REGARDING TE IMPLMENTATION OF A64?

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Chad Kopecky One of the few regular WW 'columns' I find pathetic and quite FAR from being entertaining ! A Latino trying to be funny ripping on Mexicans . Booed from the stage improv material ! I wish Ms Calhoun would cancel, "Ask a Mexican . " !!!

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  Now, Donkey--pot cannot be blamed for this.   

I'm sure there is more fluoridated water being drunk, eating of fast food,  big pharma pills being popped, caffeinated beverage consumption etc....

I take it as the overall dumbing down of society preparing for easy enslavement/imprisonment.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@patricia.calhoun  Donkey is our 'Anger Leader' ! I sometimes wonder if he's a stand-up & tries material out on those who don't allow him under their skin's. I usually skim over the fights but always visit the sites he recommends. I'll admit to picking up a ton of info off the guy. Though it has been most repetitious as of late .... He NEEDS NEW fuel !!! PLEASE Patricia !

CoreyDonahue
CoreyDonahue

@patricia.calhoun We grew up with your reporting, it was good. Like Donkey said "Back in the day they were a renowned investigative anti-authoritarian left-wing muck-raking award-winning siren of ALTERNATIVE media." 

I grew up with that. I admired that. I am not mad at what WW has become just disapointed, if someone as dumb as me can see that the conversation between Nixonlooper and the Feds in important, why can't you? And why turn your back ay what you are the best in Denver at?

CoreyDonahue
CoreyDonahue

@patricia.calhoun No, it was not.  It was nice made me feel good and sold you a bunch of advertisments but it was a human intrest story.  Wasn´t it the most heavly advertized print last year? I bet you Village Voice was happy, keepthem in the black.  I am an interesting person and damn good looking so it was an easy human interest peice but journilism no. Kelsey is a good writer though.  Although 1 dui not 4 if you looked at the case numbers you would have see they were the same, but cheking that is a job for the Editor.

I answered your question now like South-Park-Ranger, asked, why don´t you mine.  And I will make it very spicific so you can provide an answer.

Patricia Calhoun Editor of the Westword, as a journilist and editor, Why are you not asking for the conversation between Nixonlooper and the Federal Government regarding the passage of A64?  Is this conversation not of vital public interest? What reason are you sitting on your hands with this story and printing government press releases, your a journilist not a propagandist, correct?

Sorry it was three question, but I am sure there is answers for them.

If you don´t believe that that conversation in vital to the public, maybe a little brushing up on your coad of ethics is in order. 
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

@patricia.calhoun Why don't you answer Cory Donahue's question -- why no investigation of the conversations the state has had with the feds, either recently, or over the last 3 years?

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger    Heavy, Ranger, but unfortunately necessary.   

"If you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice"   Neil Peart, RUSH 

Ignoring the FACTS is making a choice.

That CHOICE does impact Coloradans who ARE currently under ATTACK by the the feds, many in local law enforcement, the courts, and the legislature. 

That CHOICE will bring ramifications--and those ramifications DO ALREADY INCLUDE (for REGISTERED/non registered MMJ patients):

Loss of job, loss of unemployment benefits, loss of child custody, loss of housing,  loss of occupational licenses (of which DORA says 75% of Coloradans have to work in their fields), loss of student loans, loss of gov. aid and loss of FREEDOM to physical imprisonment or sucking one into the for profit prison industrial  industry via an electronic monitoring device, rehab/abuse classes,  more and more drug tests etc....and--all at the "CRIMINAL's" expense. (Oh and when the MMJ data base breach with the Dept of Labor and Employment happens as planned --  registered MMJ patients very well will be flagged when renewing occupational licenses)

I am going to third or forth the request that more investigative reporting take place.  

It's only fair and right that a now Colorado owned paper?  that has benefited off of (and possibly survived because of?) the tree of life start playing it forward.........by getting the FACTS right for the citizens of this state, instead of setting them up for HARM.  

Here the Beinor ruling (and the soon to match, Coats ruling) literally CRUSH Colorado's 12 year old MMJ constitutional amendment 

Beinor and Coats are our average Coloradan--they THOUGHT MMJ WAS LEGAL and the courts ruled it is NOT, hence they lose their jobs and get no unemployment benefits.  This is exactly why the A64 campaign should be criminally charged with fraud on the voters. 

Who really thinks that "recreational" pot users will have ANY more protections than MMJ patients when the federal CSA clearly was written for recreational pot and NOT MMJ? 



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger  

Ask a Stupid Stoner ... 

Ask a Puerile Pot Clown ...

Out of the total # of marijuana arrests in Colorado, how many arrests will the pathetically puny limits and other restrictions of the festering turd that is A64 prevent every year?


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger "...embattled Westword editor."

.

"embittered" 

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@CoreyDonahue @patricia.calhoun  " Ask a Mexican . ", is a perfect example of the point you are making . I will ALWAYS admire Patricia and come one ! We are ALL getting older and ........

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@KathleenChippi @South-Park-Ranger 

Lyin' Brian Vicente and Mendacious Mason Tvert claim that Marijuana is now LEGAL in Colorado thanks to their scampaign A64.

And WW dutifully regurgitates their lies and deceptions, without question or examination, so it must be true.


South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

@DonkeyHotay  How many will it "prevent"? Precious few. No one was ever arrested for the already-DE-criminalized possession of one puny ounce, and very few people were ever busted for growing 3 flowering plants.

The real question is, how many NEW CRIMES will A64 create? Already, the state's A64 task force that WW refuses to investigate has made comments about criminalizing too much THC in the plants and third-hand smoke, whatever that is.  If you are a medical marijuana distributor, their rules say it is illegal to grow your clones in a round pot larger than 3x3 inches, or something like that. Soon, we will have the state mj Container Police to go around measuring the size of the containers for plants.

Yep, give unlimited power to the cops, and guess what, they will USE IT!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger

They've degenerated into Advertorial Fluffery ...

... though back in the day they were a renowned investigative anti-authoritarian left-wing muck-raking award-winning siren of ALTERNATIVE media.


South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

@DonkeyHotay I think we may be holding them to a HIGHER standard than they hold themselves. Aren't they just an info-tainment rag anyway?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger 

WW was waaaaay cooler in the 80's and 90's ... when the staff was fueled and motivated by lines of coke 

... instead of the lackadaisical bong-sucking pig-ignorant stoners of today.

South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

@DonkeyHotay Keep it Greasy, baby! I FEEL legitimization crawling up my ass with an RFID chip!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger

Bück Dich, and grab your ass goatse style, Stoners! ... 

... prepare to get that "Regulatory Framework" you begged for rammed up your unlubricated rectum.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger

... baby steps ... for bong-sucking babies.

REGULATION WORKS !!

... for the regulators!

South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

@DonkeyHotay And supported by 55% of Colorado voters too lazy, stupid, or stoned, to read what they actually voted on.

Oh well, at least the comedic value has been high, but the pathetic-ness of having to spend the next 200 years trying to "fix" A64 and gain the "right" to one ounce and one gram a kind of puts a damper on it all.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger 

A64 = pro-Big Government Regulation, pro-Big Government Taxes, continuation of Criminal prohibition against real-world marijuana users and growers in Colorado ... promoted by lying liars like Vicente and Tvert ... and trumpeted by lazy advertiser-protecting media like WW.

South-Park-Ranger
South-Park-Ranger

Lyin' Brian says the he "Legalized It", as if the battle were over with the removal of the petty offense penalty for possession of one ounce. People like him do more harm to the real cannabis legalization movement than the DEA and Christian "3rd Hand Smoke" Thurstone!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger @DonkeyHotay 

Like how many gallons of water does a container of specified dimensions hold?

Or where are Denver's "dankest corners"?

Or how many times can a lazy writer re-re-review the same dispensaries -- or un-opened restaurants --- when there are hundreds of others to choose from?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@South-Park-Ranger

As long as Stupid Stoners take their "legal advice" from know-nothing dopers like Billy Breathes -- eg the TSA nonsense -- there should be a never-ending supply of fresh meat for the prison industrial complex.

They can use the seizure $$ to build a new addition to the Courthouse ... the Bartkowicz-Werner wing.

Regulation Works !!

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