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Marijuana-Themed Shows Growing in Popularity. Is That a Good Thing?

Showtime%27s+Weeds%2C+starring+Mary-Louise+Parker+%28front+center%29%2C+was+one+of+the+first+marijuana-themed+TV+shows%2C+running+for+eight+seasons.
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Marijuana-Themed Shows Growing in Popularity. Is That a Good Thing?

Showtime's Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker (front center), was one of the first marijuana-themed TV shows, running for eight seasons.

Showtime's Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker (front center), was one of the first marijuana-themed TV shows, running for eight seasons.

Showtime's Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker (front center), was one of the first marijuana-themed TV shows, running for eight seasons.

Showtime's Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker (front center), was one of the first marijuana-themed TV shows, running for eight seasons.

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Reefer Madness is a 1936 horror film designed to warn teens of the dangers of smoking marijuana. By today’s standards, it is so laughable that it has become a cult film along the lines of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, for decades, Reefer Madness was the only marijuana-themed film to be released.

But, things have changed. As marijuana becomes more and more acceptable and pervasive in our society, subscription networks and streaming services have created up to 14 shows that deal directly with marijuana use. Those shows include: Bong Appetite, Disjointed, and Weeds.

Why such a rise in popularity of such shows that tend to glorify a substance that remains illegal under federal law? Federal law states, “Despite medical cannabis laws in 46 states, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis. These laws are generally applied only against persons who possess, cultivate, or distribute large quantities of cannabis.”

Under federal law, marijuana is treated like every other controlled substance, such as cocaine and heroin. The federal government places every controlled substance in a schedule according to its relative potential for abuse and medicinal value. While doctors are not actually allowed to prescribe marijuana, they can recommend it under the first amendment.  Due to this legal loophole, marijuana is allowed to be featured in TV.

While this may seem like a win for free speech; is this a downfall for morality? Cannabis and THC oil – a third degree felony – are considered illegal drugs by the federal government. Although there are states that are approved for recreational purposes, citizens can still be charged by the federal government for using the drug.

This calls into question the legality and morality of glamorizing cannabis on television. While it may be considered harmless, marijuana can alter the brain’s hippocampus-resulting in memory loss and can reduce motor skills. However; if one considers it dangerous to glorify marijuana on television, then so is every show portraying guns, death, and violence.

Disjointed is one of Netflix’s most popular shows. Olympic Heights junior Rachael Costaldi states, “Disjointed is funny and I watched it with my dad.” OH alum Keith Wade believes Disjointed to be “one of the funniest shows I have ever watched.”

Another less comedic show Bong Appetite was said to be “an interesting romp through a different world” by a frequent viewer. The longest-lived marijuana-themed show is Weeds with a total of 102 episodes over eight seasons. Some may conclude marijuana a greater celebrity than alcohol; with its cannabis cult of frequent viewers.

While marijuana may be considered an illegal drug, there’s no doubt that in today’s pop culture, its societal significance is immense.

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