What would New York look like if marijuana is legalized?
That is the single question that prompted more than 60 students to generate dozens of stories, photos, videos and data visualizations for the High Stakes reporting project. A survey found that more than 90% of New York college students want pot legalized. Reporting revealed that many veterans view medical marijuana as essential. We got an inside look at marijuana research already taking place in the state, but learned the drug’s continued illegality is hampering that work. Meanwhile, farmers and businesses aren’t waiting for legalization to figure out the supply chain for marijuana developing in New York.
There are more than a dozen other stories, too, including ones on negative effects of marijuana and the dangers it poses in the workplace and on the nation’s roads. But did we answer the original question?
That turned out to be a tall order, in part because cannabis culture is already flourishing at Syracuse University and elsewhere in New York, including at a farm where a hemp harvest was the occasion for a huge celebration of the plant. Many students wondered how much things would change if pot were legal for recreational use, although students were nonetheless disappointed when COVID-19 derailed New York’s latest effort to legalize marijuana, which looked like a sure thing when reporting began on this project in September.
We do know, though, that legalization would benefit New Yorkers caught up in immigration proceedings. And our reporters found differences in culture at colleges in Massachusetts and Vermont, where weed is already legal.