The Washington Post Embarrasses Itself

Let me start by saying that generally, I am a actually a big supporter of the Washington Post. One of my favorite data journalists, Christopher Ingraham is a reporter with them, and I generally find the coverage at WaPo to be well researched and informative.

... from the Washington Post editorial board.
… from the Washington Post editorial board.

That’s why this editorial board article is such a let down. Not only are they opposed to legalization, which might be forgiveable, their rationale is utterly junk.

Firstly, they cite a Project SAM article about legalization in Colorado. This article uses data from before legalization in Colorado to show “legalization’s adverse affects” which is obviously bunk. The Washington post is not the first paper to have made the mistake of using Project SAM “data” as though it actually meant what they claim it did. Still, they not only used this “data” in their rationale, they cited it publicly.

They also refused to speak with any proponents of the legalization effort in DC. Had they done so, these proponents, familiar with the tactics of Project SAM, may well have pointed this out to them, and saved the Washington Post a little bit of egg on its face.

Further, they advanced the theory that marijuana is a gateway drug. This is simply not true. Liberalization of marijuana laws reduces abuse of harder drugs, both in the United States and elsewhere. (Here’s a good, in depth report on it if you need more on the gateway drug hypothesis) At this point, citing the gateway drug hypothesis is like saying that the earth is flat. People used to believe it, but they were wrong and everyone knows that now.

It’s nothing short of embarrassing for the Washington Post, and it seems unlike them to listen only to one side of a story. I hope that this is a blip and not the start of a bold new direction their taking.