A still from the 1936 film "Reefer Madness." (Public domain image)

How a DU professor dealt with getting lied to about the dangers of cannabis

Andrew Matranga is a University of Denver professor of Media, Film & Journalism Studies, and one of his classes focuses on a most modern topic: Cannabis Journalism.

Joining Denver Post marijuana editor Ricardo Baca on The Cannabist Show, Matranga says that before he could start teaching students how to cover the budding beat honestly, he had to come to grips with how he was misinformed and lied to as a child about the dangers of marijuana.

Reefer Madness Still
A still from the 1936 film “Reefer Madness.” (Public domain image)

When he was first designing the class, Matranga researched how yellow journalism in the early 20th century had helped to spread propaganda about the dangers of cannabis consumption.

“You sort of look at yourself as a media person. You’re like, ‘Wow … my whole industry, our whole existence sort of helped perpetuate this,’ ” Matranga says.

Baca and Matranga also discuss how important it is to be able to have honest, fact-based conversations with young adults about cannabis consumption. They agree that youths whose brains are still developing should avoid drug use, but how to have a straightforward discussion about newly legal marijuana with teenage students is something that teachers in Colorado are trying to figure out.

Matranga says it’s possible to move on from the mistakes of the past, be objective and work with the facts.

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