How the media portrays pot matters, here’s why
Cannabis headlines are commonplace these days, but it obviously wasn’t always this way. A look at marijuana media in the U.K. is a ripe representation of what the public portrayal of pot looked like in the U.S. pre-legalization. Marijuana crime and horror stories about cannabis and psychosis reign supreme over the pond.
Take a look at pop culture. It rarely represents the true cannabis community. I’ll never forget seeing Vincent Chase hit a plastic bong on Entourage. That man would have some elaborate piece of glass that someone else cleaned for sure.
Current cannabis media landscape
Anyway, this is something I’ve watched firsthand as a patient in 2007, as a budtender in 2011, and finally, as a reporter for the last decade. The way that cannabis consumers were traditionally written in the media remains one note: heavy on the stoner stereotype and light on the moms and seniors.
Inconsistencies are also common, with reporters from reputable outlets claiming things like cannabis edibles are shaped like kids’ candies (they literally can’t be by law) or that the plant has no medical value (there are countless studies investigating therapeutic properties). On the other side, industry coverage and interest in medical value are gaining steam from mainstream journalists.
Look at pop culture, and the bag is similarly mixed. Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That featured the contentious character Che. Though many had things to say about their portrayal of the character and whatever it was that the writer was passing as a stand-up comedy–the set department had good taste in weed accessories.
Though Che’s public cannabis consumption irked many on Reddit, they just lit up all over the place with out a care, the prop team was on point. Miranda’s son Brady was seen hitting a Genius Pipe a few times. In another scene, Che sits in their living room, picks up a HauteBox, takes out a joint and lighter, and sparks up.
Why it matters
For every fabulous prop team, there’s also Denise Richards blaming a strange Real Housewives appearance on cannabis she was never given. Having positive media representation is somewhat new for cannabis consumers, who have mostly been portrayed as miscreants and criminals in the past.
As we said, it’s a mixed bag. But, like major news outlets, the tides are turning. Understanding of medical cannabis and recreational consumption are becoming mainstream, which has a ripple effect in society. With an accurate look at cannabis, more people see it as it truly is. In time, those who haven’t shifted their narrative from “weed is a drug” to the new reality of cannabis may consider it.
Seeing brands I love represented in a popular show and entrepreneurs I admire featured in mainstream publications is exciting. There’s also space left to traverse. For every beautiful story of triumph, there’s a stoner-mongering tale of kids bringing edibles to school, but perhaps that’s a sign that weed is truly reaching the mainstream.
Rather than a negative status quo balanced by the counterculture, cannabis has become a public topic that incites countless opinions. Perhaps this point of ebbs and flows is to be celebrated, even if it can feel infuriating to long-time advocates at times.
Now, as the tides teeter back and forth, it’s important that journalists, tv writers, and others with access to American minds report objectively on the plant. Representation is more diverse than ever, the same should be reflected in the cannabis zeitgeist.