Today on ISMOKE we’ll be taking a look at how the mainstream media’s negative stereotyping and far too often derogatory portrayal of Cannabis consumers is causing far more harm than good.
In some ways, we have come a long way from Reefer Madness and the days of “One puff and your hooked” propaganda. However, misinformation and Cannabis demonetisation continue with the proliferation of these negative stereotypes that do nothing but continue to perpetuate the stigma around Cannabis consumption and of those who enjoy it.
If the only experience you have of someone high on cannabis is a depiction on screen, then you could be forgiven for believing that all “stoners” are afflicted with a short attention span, an inability to maintain a conversation and a rather like, totally limited errrrm… vocabulary maaaannnn.
This is fundamentally untrue; as many of you will be aware a great number of writers, novelist and authors have consumed and continue to consume Cannabis while still producing timeless literary works.
Sited as the greatest writer in the history of the English language is believed to of consumed Cannabis, which in his day would not have suffered the same degree of odium as today.
The man behind the literary classics “The three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” often meet up with fellow French authors to enjoy Hashish which had recently become popular in France following the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon.
Wrote many books about his own adventures as well as many works of fiction.
Its difficult to imagine that Mr Nice would have been any less masterful of the English language or of lived any less of a life worth reading about in the absence of his daily (when jail permitted) Cannabis consumption,
The writer of the Jack Reacher novels which have sold some 70 million+ books which have in recent years been made into a movie starring Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise admits he keeps his writing razor sharp by working while high on Cannabis and even claims it should be compulsory.
Hunter S Thompson
The eccentric father of the Gonzo journalism movement and author of “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” “Hells Angels” and “The Rum diary” was a proponent of many mind-altering substances and rather a fan of Cannabis.
“I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and Grapefruits – and millions of Americans agree with me”
Another persistent myth promulgated in popular entertainment media is that consuming Cannabis negatively affects your intelligence.
One of the 1962 Nobel prize winning team behind the discovery of the double helix shape of DNA indulged and was a firm advocate of Cannabis and was even a founding member of the Cannabis legalisation group Soma.
Crick also credited LSD with aiding in the discovery of the elusive DNA model.
The famed astrophysicist was a staunch advocate for the legalisation of Cannabis even penning a letter in 1969 under the pseudonym Mr X, which was later published in Dr Lester Grinspoon’s 1971 book “Marihuana Reconsidered”
Read more: http://marijuana-uses.com/mr-x/
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” ~ Carl Sagan
It is evidence of the fear and stigma the prohibition of Cannabis creates within academia that Sagan’s identity as Mr X wasn’t publicly revealed until the 1999 posthumous publication of Keay Davidson’s Book “Carl Sagan: A life” following his death in 1996.
Was an extraordinary intellect who revolutionised modern physics. The American Physicist who worked on the atomic bomb was another Nobel prize winning “pothead” who won the prestigious award for his work with the team that provided fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics in the 1960’s.
Feynman utilised Cannabis to heighten his experimentation with sensory deprivation and consciousness expanding drugs such as LSD.
The famed Billionaire behind the ubiquitous and instantly recognisable brand Microsoft voted yes to pass Initiative 502, legalising Cannabis for recreational use in his home of Washington State in 2012 and is now working with the Los-Angeles based start-up Kind.
A Financial business founded in 2013 with the mission to make it easier for cannabis-related businesses to make safe and secure transactions, within the law. Kind will be running software used for governments in Microsoft’s cloud, Azure.(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/microsoft-kind-financial-weed-marijuana-cannabis-bill-gates-a7086946.html)
“As for drugs—well, marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice…” ~ Bill Gates
The American Psychologist and writer is most well known for wanting to “turn on” the world with LSD in the 1960’s. Is arguably one of the most influential people of the 20th century shaping cultural and political trends for decades to come.
Tim was also an avid proponent of Cannabis, famously even reshaping modern US law when in 1969 he took his own Cannabis arrest court case (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/395/6/) to the highest body of legal authority, the US Supreme court where he successfully argued that the Marihuana Tax Act was flawed, because in order to pay the tax you’d have to incriminate yourself. This broke the US constitution violating the fifth amendment.
This paradox was accepted as prejudicial and he won a unanimous verdict forcing the American legal system to draft what became the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 which still stands to this day, Well, until someone challenges it!
Far to often cannabis consumers are still depicted in popular culture as unmotivated, lazy, weak and undisciplined.
Tell that to the fastest man on Earth and multiple gold medal winning athlete Usain Bolt and the most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps who both enjoy Cannabis recreationally as does Canadian gold medal winning Snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.
UFC fighters Nick Diaz and Ronda Rousey have both come out as advocates of cannabis use for after fighting to aid healing.
Basket Ball player Cliff Robinson, 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, Ultramarathoner Avery Collins who runs 100+ miles while high all utilise Cannabis. As do a growing numbers of NFL players Jake Plummer, Ricky Williams and Kyle Turley who having developed CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) from consecutive concussions is fighting for NFL players to have the right to access cannabis medicinally (http://herb.co/2017/01/02/cte-cannabis-treatment/) to help with the growing numbers of CTE injuries and the rampant opioid abuse epidemic within the sport.
Not one of those athletes would I ever consider weak, lazy or unmotivated.
“Cannabis consumers are “Wasters” “drop outs” and never amount to anything.” This is another vicious myth that needs to be expunged from our culture.
Several American presidents (http://hightimes.com/culture/11-us-presidents-who-smoked-marijuana/) Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, James Monroe, John F Kennedy, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington all consumed Cannabis and went on to what the Americans consider to be the best job in the land., so what’s the problem?
“Don’t smoke weed little Jimmy, you might grow up to be president”
There are also innumerable successful business men that have also enjoyed the company of Mary Jane while in the boardroom.
George Zimmer The former Mens Warehouse CEO confessed to a half-century-long relationship with the plant. George is worth in the area of $150 million.. What a loser huh?
Steve Jobs The visionary behind many of Apples devices admitted to smoking Cannabis when he was younger to relax and that he regularly enjoyed eating cannabis and using drugs like LSD to help open his mind and expand his consciousness.
Michael Bloomberg former three-term mayor of New York and head of Bloomberg media company is quoted when interviewed by New York magazine and asked if he had ever smoked marijuana as famously answering, “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.” His current net worth $50 Billion (With a B)
Mark Johnson was CEO of Zite, a Silicon Valley company that customised mobile content, and said in an interview with the above mentioned Bloomberg media company (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-02-28/silicon-valley-is-high-on-innovation-dot-and-pot) that he smoked Cannabis “day in and day out” and that “pot” use was so widespread among Silicon Valley tech workers that it simply isn’t an issue.
Silicon Valley is of course considered to be a hive of intellectual activity, technological innovations and creative next generation revolutions this does not sit well the narrative that cannabis dulls the consumer’s mind and dampens their creative capacity.
Also, you have to consider the absurd amount of great musicians throughout history that have enjoyed and espoused Cannabis in their music, as Bill Hick said
“If you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favour, go home tonight and take all of albums, all your tapes and all your CD’s and burn them because you know what the musicians who have made that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years.. RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAL fucking high on drugs.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4krjE679dM)
Cannabis has positively been contributing to music industry for easily a century now, and since first exploding onto the Jazz scene it has revolutionised music genres around the globe, further defying the prohibitionists narrative of being a demon weed.
Movies are not immune from perpetuating popular misconceptions and can often be the primary vessel for perpetuating propaganda.
For decades Hollywood has been portraying cannabis consumers as paranoid, irresponsible, incompetent, both mentally and emotionally stunted imbeciles with poor posture, dirty clothes, a forgetful nature and who’re constantly switching between being obsessed with food and maniacally laughing as is epitomised best in this example from Euro Trip:
The movies of the past quarter century have also done their part to perpetuate further the negative image that was well established by their predecessors, the likes of Cheech & Chong, Fast times at Ridgemount High, Dazed & Confused and the “Bill and Ted” movies.
All helped to plant the seeds of prejudice in fertile new minds. Also films like: Dude where’s my car, Puff-Puff Pass, Dazed and confused, How high, Half baked, Don’t be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Grandma’s Boy, the trilogies of Friday and Harold and Kumar, Jay and Silent Bob strike back, Mac and Dev go to High School, Pineapple Express; although comical in nature, they still portray for the most part cannabis use and its users in outdated often offensive negative stereotypes.
TV has also played its part in the demonisation of Cannabis culture the same attitudes and ideologies permeates into the world of small screen entertainment as much as it does with the big screen.
Although never directly mentioned or addressed there are many TV shows with characters consuming or being inferred to be under the influence of cannabis, with them ultimately being depicted as being negatively impaired by its effects.
TV shows like “That 70s show” “Scooby Doo” “Beavis and Butthead” all had “dopey” protagonists teaching the youth the previous generations prejudices.
An interesting exception to this trend is Popeye who is visibly enhanced by his implied consumption.
So as cannabis continues to gain cultural acceptance the public perception is gradually changing and as always network executives, TV producers, Movie directors and general entertainment corporation bigwigs are paying attention and slowly cottoning on to the potential profits of exploiting cannabis culture by creating neutral and positive content about cannabis consumption and the wider culture.
Now with less comical shows and more factual programs such as Weediquette, to cooking programs like ‘Bong Appetite’ which has evolved from the stereotype of Shaggy and Scooby rooting around in the kitchen of whatever haunted mansion they’d been forced to explore to cannasseurs dinning on gourmet meals made by guest chefs – with myriad of medicated ingredients and infusions of all kinds with extracts and oils.
TV shows that depict cannabis use in a comical way but that doesn’t stigmatise or pigeon hole the stars in a negative way are emerging slowly from the remnants of the old Hollywood clichés. Shows like MTVs Mary And Jane and HBO’s comedy series High Maintenance are both comedies which are set to pave the way for the normalisation of cannabis on television in the US and eventually we can hope someday to the UK too.