Denver Post to hire a marijuana editor

Greg Campbell Contributor

The Denver Post is hiring a pot editor for a special marijuana-news website, but whoever is hired will still be held to the newspaper’s drug testing requirement, according to an editor’s tweet.

Colorado voters legalized recreational use of marijuana by adults last November and it has allowed patients to use pot for medical reasons since 2000. Denver Post News Editor Kevin Dale wrote on Wednesday that when recreational sales begin in January, the paper will cover the topic with a dedicated editor.

“We have written extensively about the research on marijuana, the regulation, the wrangling in the legislature, cooking with marijuana and growing it,” Dale wrote. “The new year will bring all angles together in a way that is challenging and exciting for us. We plan to do what we do with any major story: throw our best muscle, creative minds and ingenuity at the project.”

The new editor will be hired internally, meaning he or she has already passed a drug screening, according to Denver Post City Editor Dana Coffield, who tweeted about the announcement on Thursday. She tweeted that the drug-testing requirement was a “sticky wicket” for the new beat.

The Post is actually late to the scene. In 2009, the Denver-based magazine Westword was the first non-cannabis publication in the country to hire a dedicated pot reporter, who writes under the pen name William Breathes.

Westword editor Patricia Calhoun told media reporter Jim Romenesko last year that not only have they never tested their reporters for drug use but that it’s Breathes’ job to get stoned, just as it’s a restaurant critic’s job to eat out.

“[W]e’re currently doing a series of blog posts in which the writers get stoned with local artists and musicians,” she told Romenesko last December.

It’s doubtful that the Post will follow suit, but Dale writes that the newspaper is “going to have some fun” covering the topic.

“Say what you want about the newspaper industry, but The Post is the most powerful news organization in the region,” he wrote. “We know how to cover big stories. And with pot, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Readers who’ve commented on Dale’s announcement seem underwhelmed, with one wondering “which one of you morons is qualified” to write about marijuana.

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