Wake-Up Call: Holiday parties go to pot

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At holiday parties this weekend, everyone was talking about pot. I haven't been asked about marijuana this much since my first day of college in 1972, when I wore a hippie-print dress and my dormmates assumed I could hook them up.

People were talking about the booming business in medical marijuana -- as evidenced n not just by the dispensary ads in Westword, but the respectable business types opening those dispensaries -- and about all the people they know who have found pot the solution to soothing their aging aches and pains.

The biggest pain of my week? This quote from Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, who was asked about medical marijuana advertising for a KUNC report.

"I can imagine in a recession, especially in an advertising recession, that it would be really attractive to take medical marijuana ads, in the same way they take pharmaceutical ads, even alcohol," Tompkins told KUNC's Bente Birkeland. "But the fact is, it is still against the law on the federal level. Even though there is no desire to prosecute it, it is still illegal, and generally it's against the law to be advertising an illegal act."

Brave talk for a man representing a foundation-funded think tank devoted to supporting daily newspapers, that longtime mainstay of full-page underwear ads.

Yes, Westword accepts dispensary ads. Alternative newspapers are often the vehicle that emerging businesses use for advertising: We had a head shop ad in our first issue in 1977, just as we have head shop ads today. And then there were the mobile hot-tub businesses and the roller-skating stores and the hologram galleries -- but unlike those ventures, medical marijuana is here to stay.

Birkeland had asked me about Tompkin's when she interviewed me. And his prudey-pants position aside, the fact is that fourteen states, Colorado included, have legalized medical marijuana, with more considering such a move every day. And this fall, the Obama administration told the Department of Justice to stand down on pursuing and prosecuting cases that these states have deemed legal.

No matter how much Poynter might huff and puff.

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