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An Impulse Buy

National Geographic gets hip


The relationship between mainstream media and cannabis culture is about as long and dysfunctional as that the between the lead singer and guitarist of your favorite 1960s British rock band, whoever they are. (Mine is Led Zeppelin, and that’s not quite so bad, but still weird.) For decades, these publications, which lived and in many cases died on their proximity to power, studiously embraced their status as establishment gatekeepers, reliably repeating whatever foolishness they were fed on the subject with not even the illusion of independent thought. Their craven efforts to deceive readers were crucial to maintaining the status quo for policy, with all the awful human costs that entailed.

Well, times have changed, and our beloved MSM has been forced to develop a bit of humility. Corporate print media is facing hard times, unprecedented in scope, and that has been almost invariably due to shoddy management by the witless holding companies that bought these once-proud institutions and then, almost without exception, ran them into the ground faster and harder than I would be if I tried to tackle Leonard Fournette. With that, revelations have occurred. Maybe the government isn’t always right, and maybe their insider sources are not always motivated by altruism. Perish the thought!

A nice, entertaining, educational example of how this dynamic has played out can be found on your local newsstand (if such things still exist) right now. It’s a special cannabis-themed copy of National Geographic, titled “Marijuana Medicine: The Science of Unlocking the Secrets of Cannabis.” Now, many magazines have rolled out cannabis specials over the past couple of years, but this is the only one I’ve seen that is actually worth its inflated cover price. Over the course of 112 pages, various writers touch on everything from growing to cultivating to harvesting, as well as the legal and ethical issues—not to mention a mention of the culture itself.

I saw this glossy gem in the checkout line at Publix, nestled in amongst the tabloids and the Sudoku books, its bright yellow cover showcasing a giant pot leaf that all but screamed, “Buy me, rube!” And I was going to, until I found out that a friend already did. I spent the $14.99(!) on beer instead. It’s worth noting that NatGeo, founded 1888, is one of the world’s oldest print publications, and perhaps the only one that has managed to maintain its momentum throughout every phase-shift the business has seen in that time. It’s architects have done everything right, cultivating a niche market that nonetheless spanned virtually every demographic at the same time, with uniformly spectacular production values and a team of photographers that’s made the magazine one of the few real icons left in the industry. It’s rare to see the mainstream press giving cannabis a fair shake, even these days, but the NatGeo folks have done just that. Recommended!

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