The Atlantic’s ‘Failed’ Legalization Story is a Lie. Here’s Why.

 In Legalization, National News

If you’re a writer who’s been in the game long enough to enter the word “journalist” on a tax form, you have had this experience: After toiling long and hard on a piece, crafting subtle-yet-devastating arguments, marshaling evidence, paring quotes, and delivering a killer conclusion, you wake up on the morning of its publication to find the entire enterprise destroyed by a thoughtless headline. Or a silly headline. Or a stupid, nonsensical headline. Or a headline that is diametrically opposed to the very point you were trying to make.

That is what I imagine Tom James experienced on Monday morning.

James is the author of the Atlantic Monthly feature that dropped yesterday under the headline “The Failed Promise of Legal Pot.”

Nice headline. Provocative. Clickable. And false to the bone.

James’s 4,500-word piece gets at a couple of undeniable truths. In America’s three legal, regulated, commercial states, the black market for cannabis has winnowed considerably but hasn’t completely disappeared. And the racial disparities in arrests that existed during prohibition still exist after prohibition’s end. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington arrest far fewer people now than they did in 2011, but people of color still face higher rates of arrest than white people.

That’s it. That’s the “failed promise” of legal pot.


Recent Posts