Temple University will offer a communications course this spring that centers around marijuana.
The class is designed to offer an in-depth analysis of cannabis policy and the history of its prohibition for communications students — including aspiring journalists, public relations specialists or advertising executives — who will theoretically encounter the issue in their work.
"But it's not a how-to course," Professor Linn Washington said.
Washington will partner with Chris Goldstein, Philly420 columnist and marijuana activist, to teach the Marijuana in the News class in the spring 2017 semester.
"It's complex: What the plant is, the details of the patchwork of state and local laws, and then how it intersects with public policy, medicine, criminal justice, pop-culture," Goldstein said. "If you're going to work in communications, quite frankly, you're going to encounter marijuana in the course of your work at some point."
Washington, who started writing about the subject as a news reporter in the 1970s, has followed Goldstein's involvement in marijuana legalization efforts for several years.
"We started having conversations and this class grew out of those conversations," Washington said.
Several other universities across the country also offer courses that focus on marijuana policy as part of a journalism curriculum, including the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Denver.
Temple's course, which will be available to both undergraduate and graduate students at the university's Center City campus, is dependent on enrollment. If minimum registration requirements aren't met, the class would be canceled.
"But we're looking forward to a high enrollment," Washington deadpanned.