Sun Writers Smoke Pot: 33 Fail to Turn on Publisher|
BY VERITAS (AKA STEPHEN BROWN), JUNE 4-10, 1969
Sun reporter Peter Ladner was fired recently for being honest.
He was dismissed within 36 hours after he had told a PTA meeting on drugs that he knew of about 20 writers or editors at the Sun who smoke marijuana regularly.
The official reason the Sun gave Ladner for his dismissal was incompetence. But Ladner said he was told by a senior editor who handled the firing: "I'm not going to pretend that your statement on drugs has nothing to do with your dismissal."
He made the remark, which brought down the wrath of the Sun, at a recent meeting of the Hillcrest Elementary School PTA in Coquitlam.
He had been invited to be a panelist representing university students. This is an important point, since he was not representing the Sun in any way.
During the question period, a woman asked Ladner if it was not true that pot users become irresponsible, their marks fall, and they cannot hold jobs.
Ladner replied: "Not so. It is quite possible to smoke pot and function in society.
"I know of 20 people ... who are quite responsible — some support a wife and family very well — who take pot regularly, like every weekend."
Unfortunately for Ladner, another Sun reporter, Richard Blair, was covering the meeting and put Ladner's name and remark in the story he wrote on the meeting.
Blair wrote, in part: "UBC student Peter Ladner, in response to a question on drugs said: 'In the organization I work for I know of 20 people who smoke pot regularly.' "
The ironic part of the whole thing is that Ladner's estimate of 20 heads on the Sun editorial staff is a very conservative one, according to several informed sources.
The actual figure, according to one Sun staffer who did a head count of heads, is about 33 — about one-third of the total editorial staff and an overwhelming majority of the staff writers under 25.
Naomi Pauls and Charles Campbell, The Georgia Straight: What the hell happened? (30 years of Vancouver's alternate weekly; The best of the Georgia Straight), Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver and Toronto, 1997, pp. 50-51.