With the cannabis industry expected to thrive in several states, California is of course, the next up to offer cannabis courses to help those looking to get into the industry. This summer, UC Berkeley will be offering a course on cannabis journalism that will take writers through the rigors of writing and to report non-biased and professional news in the new industry.
The course instructor, Katya Cengel will help aspiring journalists to develop sources, conduct interviews, write quickly, revise and edit along with an introduction to multimedia and blogging. Another instructor, David Downs will guide those with his experience working as a Cannabis journalist and offer insight into unfamiliar territory of covering cannabis through media and going in-depth into writing non-fiction books.
Downs started covering the cannabis industry with the East Bay Express back in 2009 with a column called “Legalization Nation” and as the co-founder of the Marijuana Business Report in 2010.
Back in 2009 when Downs started the “Legalization Nation” column, there was little coverage on the cannabis industry. Then in 2012 Denver’s biggest newspaper, The Denver Post started The Cannabist and coverage from media channels such as VICE through their Weediequette show gave new light to covering cannabis.
Once the legitimacy of legalization was established, back in 2014, editors at other media outlets began to take the topic more seriously. In 2014 Oregon and Alaska accelerated the rise in media coverage of the marijuana industry.
UC Berkeley is following the same path as University of Denver, who last year started an interim course on cannabis journalism – being the first University in the U.S. offering such courses. These courses will help students investigate the scope of marijuana legalization movement and its many political and practical intricacies.
“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,” according to the University of Denver website.
While institutions are evolving more slowly than publications, the need for more professionals in the industry is apparent.
So it seems as though higher education is finally picking up on this growing necessity; DU and now UC Berkeley…who next?
However, as of now, there are no universities offering an education or course in the actual business and industry. But as the industry continues to grow, and legalization expands, we may see this change. As of now, there are some institutions that have recognized this need and developed cannabis industry training.