Hey, Hollywood! It's Time to Get Real Portraying Marijuana Users on Screen
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The Hollywood portrayal of marijuana users usually involves a bumbling buffoon who sits on a couch, smokes weed and binge watches TV. He can barely remember where he left his car keys, much less hold down a job or do well in school.
Funny at the time, sure. But that joke isn't funny anymore to the millions who now use marijuana both medically and recreationally, a new survey has found.
Hollywood needs to get its act together in putting examples of people who use marijuana that aren't silly and forgetful stoners, more than seven out of 10 respondents to the survey from Minor & Co. said. The youngest respondents said they'd prefer seeing someone responsibly use cannabis on screen rather than drink alcohol.
Perceptions have changed everywhere but on TV.
Recreational cannabis is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. That's around 69 million people living where adult-use is legal, or about 20 percent of the United States population. Around 12 percent of the population lives in California alone, where recreational cannabis sales started in January.
Thirty of the states have legalized medical marijuana.
To look at it another way, sales of both medical and adult-use marijuana are expected to reach $10 billion this year, according to the 2018 Marijuana Business Factbook. Yet charcters on television and film continue portray marijuana users as stoners. It's a bit like having every character who drinks a beer portrayed as a stereotypical drunken lout.
According to the survey of legal cannabis users by New York City-based Minor & Co, they've had enough.
Respondents to the survey were those who use cannabis regularly, at least several times a week. They shared their thoughts on how cannabis use is portrayed on television and in the movies.
- Seven of 10 said the media plays a huge role in how cannabis use is seen by the pubic and removing the stigmas associated with the drug
- Seven of 10 also said they find it easier to talk to others about cannabis after seeing characters in the media who use cannabis without being portrayed as "silly and stoned"
- Eight of 10 said depicting use of cannabis on TV shows should be the same as depicting someone drinking wine, beer or a cocktail
- 73% of Millennials (those ages 21 to 38) said they would prefer seeing someone use cannabis on TV rather than drink alcohol
- Eight of 10 also said they want shows that depict medical cannabis as a "legitimate and positive medical option."
At the same time, 72 percent said that depicting marijuana use on television and in movies has helped the cause of legalization. However, Miner & Co. president Robert Miner said there's a difference between "normalization" of marijuana and wider acceptance for use by productive consumers.
As part of the survey results release, Miner said, "The same recognizable trope of the harmless silly stoner that drove normalization has now become an impediment to acceptance for productive and engaged consumers of cannabis."