The perception surrounding cannabis has changed rapidly in the past couple of years. This comes amid a scientific singularity in the realm of cannabis research. Every day the benefits of cannabis on pretty much every single illness comes out, and there is essentially no research showing that marijuana is harmful, aside from some studies which indicate that it can lower IQ in adolescents with preexisting mental conditions. But the stigma surrounding the plant has almost completely died off, aside from some die-hard conservatives from older generations. Gone are the days of cannabis being seen as a drug for lazy teenagers and adolescents or nonproductive layabouts in general. Cannabis can now be legally used by all in different settings depending on the laws of the state. Business people may now prefer to settle deals at a marijuana bar over a meal instead of with an alcoholic beverage.
Hollywood out of Sync
Recent shows out of Hollywood have been accused of being out of touch with the actual reality of legalized marijuana. Most notably, the two recent movies of Ballersand Disjointedare somewhat skewed in terms of the marijuana industry. These movies seem to reinforce the negative stereotypes that have been seen time and time again over the decades. But this does not do justice to everyday citizens who calmly smoke a joint after a stressful day at work, in the comfort of their own home. And these citizens can be entrepreneurs, politicians, lawyers, doctors and other well-regardedmembers of societies, as opposed to those who have been traditionally seen as lower class.
Ballers started taking some dangerous and misleading creative liberty with cannabis legalization. In the season premiere, one figure ends up wearing a marijuana brand’s hoodie in an endorsement deal— and he later gives the hoodie to a fan, who inappropriately is a very young teenager. A few weeks later in the season’s third episode, his friend and agent tour the endorsed brand’s marijuana grow, eating and pocketing “free samples” of fresh-from-the-oven infused edibles, with their host’s permission, something the legal, regulated marijuana industry would never tolerate.
In Disjointed, people go to the medical dispensary and can be seen hanging around there all day to get their “fix”. In one episode, a medical dispensary attended decided to give one person a bottle of CBD oil on the house for no reason. And the marijuana is casually consumed on the premises by the patients. The message still seems to be that the people who go for medical marijuana are all non-productive members of society with nothing better to do.
But this has absolutely nothing to do with what actually happens at medical dispensaries, which is attended by people with chronic illnesses such as glaucoma, PTSD and cancer and desperately need access. Everything is also quite strictly monitored in medical dispensaries, they don’t simply give out free medical grade marijuana. And it is not legal to smoke marijuana in a public place, a law which seems to be conveniently overlooked by directors in order to make the story easier to tell.
While it is understandable that in the creation of any form of show, things need to be exaggerated in order to make them entertaining and believable. If everybody acted 100% responsibly and did not put a foot wrong, then there would not really be no show. They are called dramas for a reason, as there needs to be drama. But they have taken it a little far and the representations are too far removed from the effects of marijuana and the actual laws surrounding the substance. Handing someone a bottle of CBD oil is not the same as handing them a bottle of vodka. And the side effects of marijuana are pretty much negligible. At worst you will fall asleep, and at absolute worst you may pull a whitey if you are recklessly irresponsible and it is your first time.
Despite the fact that public perception has changed considerably in recent years, there is still a long way to go in terms of removing the misconceptions surrounding cannabis sale, distribution and consumption. It is not as simple to obtain from dispensaries as demonstrated in the shows. In order to fully remove decades of negative programming in relation to marijuana, it is going to take a lot of time. But the time could be made far shorter if directors and producers made the effort to portray the actual reality of marijuana. Such shows really do have a huge effect on how people view the substance, especially young people who are susceptible to believing what they see is true. Hollywood dramas such as Disjointed and Ballers might find they have stepped too far, as people turn away from shows that are too far removed from what actually happens in the real world.