Cannabis Journalism: Reporting on America’s New Normal

Offering during Interterms: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring

Monday-Friday | Travel/Online/Hybrid | Prerequisite: Second-year standing

Instructor: Andrew Matranga | | @AndrewMatranga

This course will examine the legalization of marijuana — both medical and recreational – in Colorado and in states across the country.

The legalization of recreational marijuana by Colorado voters in 2012 signaled a historic change that continues the debate in election referenda and in state legislatures across the country. Denver, and the University of Denver, sit at this historic crossroads, and as student journalists, we will be able to dig into all the issues that legalization poses, from medical and legal issues.

Not only will we be investigating the scope of the marijuana legalization movement and its many political and practical intricacies, we also will be presenting this project with original data and multimedia elements conceived and designed to push and promote enterprising storytelling on a national level. Students will visit and interview dispensaries, industry professionals and private citizens to produce a portfolio piece of narrative journalism using the modes and methods of their choice, with direction of the instructor. We will question this topic using Bruce Barcott’s new book Weed the People as our lens:

The magnitude of the change in America’s relationship to marijuana can’t be measured in only economic or social terms: There are deeper shifts going on here – cultural realignments, social adjustments, and financial adjustments. The place of marijuana in our lives is being rethought, reconsidered, and recalibrated. Four decades after Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs, that long campaign has reached a point of exhaustion and failure. The era of its winding down as arrived.

-Bruce Barcott, Weed the People

Textbooks (Digital copies only; not in DU bookstore)

WEED THE PEOPLE: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America

MARIJUANA NATION – The Legalization of Cannabis Across the USA


Your instructor has been with DU since March of 2013. He loves media, and he has been at each level of the industry, from his time studying journalism as a student, performing work as a student journalist, teaching student journalists, serving as a magazine journalist, and then advising student journalists. He really loves maps, his family, great story pitches, riding his bike and playing his guitar.