by Joe Siegel
With a growing number of states making it legal for people to smoke marijuana, LGBTQ media have been providing increased coverage of the issue.
The Washington Blade recently launched a regular grouping of stories that run under the heading “Cannabis Culture.” Recent instalments included stories about the efforts to legalize recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey, San Francisco expunging 9,000 marijuana convictions, retail sales in Colorado, and a report about the link between medical marijuana and employment for Americans 50 and up.
“The Blade partners with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for its cannabis coverage, in addition to our original reporting,” explained editor Kevin Naff. “We are sponsoring the National Cannabis Festival on April 20 in Washington, D.C., and will produce a special cannabis issue on April 19.”
Should LGBTQ media be discussing the legalization of marijuana at all? Is it a gay issue?
“These issues remain relevant to the LGBTQ community,” Naff said. “Gay men with HIV were at the forefront of the fight for medical marijuana laws. Underrepresented communities have been disproportionately impacted by the prosecution of marijuana laws.”
In a recent story on Forbes.com titled “The Road To National Marijuana Legalization Has Allies In the LGBTQ Community,” writer Andre Bourque noted: “The ties between marijuana legalization and LBGTQ rights go back decades to the AIDS epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. At a time when the rate of AIDS infections skyrocketed and treatment research stalled, patients and advocates began fighting for medical marijuana use as early as 1976. As Zachary Zane recounts in Out Magazine, California’s Proposition 215 — the first bill to legalize medical marijuana — was co-written by Dennis Peron, a gay man who lost his significant other to AIDS.”
There’s another reason why the marijuana debate has generated interest among readers of LGBTQ media. It has to do with money.
“In addition, as those laws have started to change, tremendous new business opportunities are being created. Our community is entrepreneurial and many LGBTQ people are taking prominent roles in both the fight to reform the laws and to create new businesses as a result,” Naff added.
According to a June 2017 report by New Frontier Data, “The LGBT community at large both supports cannabis legalization and consumes cannabis at significantly higher rates than heterosexuals. LGBT advocacy and cannabis legalization represent two of the fastest evolving public opinion issues in contemporary American society. Continued exposure of LGBT advocacy may strengthen the economic impact of the community, increasing its influence among trendsetters in the fast-evolving cannabis industry.”
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