And one of the changes is journalistic—a shift in the terms of the legalization conversation itself. “I think editors are realizing that people want more honest, unbiased coverage of the issue,” Richard Lee puts it. “Newspapers are to a certain degree mirrors of our society. To the degree that our poll numbers [about marijuana] are up and more people than ever don’t think it should be illegal—the coverage reflects that.”

David Downs is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. A former editor for Village Voice Media, he has contributed to Wired magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Believer, and The Onion in addition to other publications.