College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

Journalism Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Journalism



Primary Advisor

Bill Loving


This study uses the agenda-setting theory (McCombs & Shaw, 1972, p. 176) to examine the various aspects of cannabis coverage in the news media and how news media have presented cannabis and the numerous debates over cannabis uses. Cannabis has been a focus of U.S. news media since the 19th century and has been historically misrepresented in national and local news media. More recently, the U.S. has seen a great shift in the public’s attitude towards cannabis. With more and more states legalizing medical and even recreational use, news media are surging to meet the demands of its publics, even creating entire sections in certain regional newspapers for the cannabis beat. The national news media must take a different approach than those regional papers though; marijuana is not legal at the federal level nor in many states in any form. Both national and regional newspapers must address the issues accompanying the road to legalization at the federal level since federal law may supersede state law in any case as the legislation currently stands.