Wanted: Professional Pot Critic

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Voters in the state elected to legalize medical marijuana almost a decade ago. But this year, there has been a boom in the number of dispensaries. Now, the Denver alternative-weekly newspaper, Westword, is seeking a freelance pot critic. Host Liane Hansen speaks to Westword editor Patricia Calhoun about the alternative weekly's search for a medical marijuana critic.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Another Colorado story caught our attention this past week. Voters in the state elected to legalize medical marijuana almost a decade ago but this year, there's been a boom in the number of dispensaries. Now, the Denver alternative weekly newspaper Westword is seeking a freelance pot critic. The actual job title is medical marijuana dispensary reviewer.

Patricia Calhoun is editor of the Westword, and she joins us from member station KCFR in Denver. Welcome to the program.

Ms. PATRICIA CALHOUN (Editor, Westword): Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here.

HANSEN: The basic requirements for this job: The applicants must have a medical marijuana card from their doctor, and they have to submit an essay on "What Marijuana Means to Me." I'm interested - what kind of essays are you getting? What are people saying?

Ms. CALHOUN: We are getting quite the range of essays. We've gotten probably 300 of them - some who have these unbelievable, heartbreaking stories about the pain they have in their body from some ailment that has only been cured by medical marijuana. And some are just true pot fans, and this is their dream jobs.

HANSEN: Have you received any negative feedback at all?

Ms. CALHOUN: We have. We've had threats of boycotts from people who are true marijuana lovers who think this is a cynical move. Actually, it's a pretty sincere one because with the boom in medical marijuana dispensaries, you have every kind possible. And it's actually going to be useful for people to know what the ambiance is like, what the products are like, what they can expect when they go in there.

HANSEN: Let me ask you, for the person who gets the job, do you have any concerns at all about this person like, meeting deadlines, losing their train of thought - I mean, you know, punctuation, that kind of thing?

Ms. CALHOUN: Well, you know, we don't drug-test our employees as it is and it's not unlikely that we have several people on staff who would already have great qualifications for this job, but they all manage to make their deadlines. So I think we'll be able to build it in.

HANSEN: So, the picture you have in your mind of your ideal applicant, your ideal critic, what would that be?

Ms. CALHOUN: Ideally, it would be like any critic. It would be someone who is a very entertaining writer, has very good opinions and is able to arrive at those opinions through actual reporting and analysis. Now, will what the person is reviewing affect their ability to be analytical? We'll see.

HANSEN: Patricia Calhoun is editor of Westword, an alternative weekly newspaper in Denver. The paper is looking for a medical marijuana critic. Thank you, Patricia.

Ms. CALHOUN: Thank you.

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