How SU students tackled reporting on the fate of legal marijuana in NY

Published 5:00 a.m. ET July 3, 2020


Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions in Lee, Massachusetts, speaks about her shop’s opening week and large New York clientele; July 9, 2019.

Albany Bureau

A Syracuse University student-driven reporting project offers an in-depth look at the high-stakes social, economic and public safety issues behind the politically charged debate over legalizing recreational marijuana in New York.

The effort began last fall as the students consulted with David Robinson, state health care reporter for USA TODAY Network New York. During a guest lecture, Robinson provided insights into his extensive reporting on the generational war over American cannabis laws.

The students spent months interviewing marijuana users, cannabis industry experts, lawmakers and advocates.

Their reporting included a survey of New York college students on a diverse mix of marijuana-related topics, as well as visits to a hemp research facility and a hemp harvest festival.

John Kimberly, a New York Harvest Festival and Freedom Fair attendee from New Jersey, smells a hemp flower, then cradles it in his hands at the Knarich Family Farm in Mount Vision, N.Y in October, 2019. (Photo: Emily Kenny, Special Contributor to USA TODAY Network)

The student journalists further overcame a myriad of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic to finish the job.

The resulting stories have being published by the USA TODAY Network New York through a partnership with the NewsHouse website.

Here are the articles:

Why 90% of NY college students back marijuana legalization, and many use CBD, cannabis: survey 

A NY man’s journey from busted for growing illegal pot to hosting hemp harvest festival

How marijuana laws complicate scientists’ search for crucial answers about cannabis, hemp

Take a 360-degree virtually tour of Cornell’s hemp research facility in New York

Marijuana or cannabis? How racism, immigration shaped history of drug war in N.Y., U.S.

Marijuana supply chain: Why ‘seed-to-sale’ rules are key to New York legalization debate

How drugged driving, stoned workers in legal weed states impacts NY marijuana legalization

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David Robinson is the state health care reporter for the USA TODAY Network New York. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @DrobinsonLoHud

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