University of Denver students walk across campus in November 2014. (Kathryn Scott Osler, Denver Post file)

Cannabis Journalism: It’s a class you can now take at University of Denver

Students at the prestigious and private University of Denver are already studying marijuana law. (For reals, they are.) In a few months they’ll have the opportunity to study cannabis journalism.

“They approved the class, which tickles me a little bit,” said Andrew Matranga, who will teach the interterm class Cannabis Journalism: Covering and Reporting on America’s New Normal starting in mid-August. “That’s cool to have that latitude.”

The course, a four-credit five-day intensive, will have the students “investigating the scope of the marijuana legalization movement and its many political and practical intricacies,” according to course materials. “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.”

The class sounds like it will mirror a typical week in the life of a reporter — a weed reporter, that is. Students will work on reporting, researching, writing and editing from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (and likely longer) Monday Aug. 17-Friday Aug. 21 while working with the passionate and hands-on Professor Matranga, a part-time lecturer at DU and the faculty adviser for the university’s student newspaper The Clarion.

“You can bang out four credits in a week,” said Matranga of the intensive interterm classes. “I previously taught a video editing class, partnering with the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, and students from all walks learned (video editing software) Premiere and (social media storytelling service) Storify. It was pretty rad.”

Matranga hopes his weed journalism class — which will use Bruce Barcott’s “Weed the People” and this very website as nontraditional textbooks — will expand his students’ horizons.

“It might require some comfort zone-busting for the students,” he said, “but that’s what journalism is great for, too.”