Tuesday, June 25, 2013

4/20: Zoning Out to TV

You guys want a hit?

"Casual marijuana use becomes common on TV; Puffs just part of the performance" by Matthew Gilbert |  Globe Staff, June 18, 2013

Pot is everywhere on TV. Weed has become almost as common as romantic tensions on sitcoms.

The cultural shift parallels a legal one. It comes as Massachusetts joins 17 other states (and Washington, D.C.) in legalizing medical marijuana, and just as Washington state and Colorado allow legalized recreational use....

And the pot use on these shows is mostly portrayed as casual, and in a nonjudgmental way. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, as the Reagan-era War on Drugs continued to escalate, pot on TV was yoked into the same category as cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs; now it’s more in league with adult alcohol use — relatively safe, if used responsibly.

Forget about the “very special episode” on the dangers of smoking a joint and beginning a downward spiral into the gutter. Now Joan Rivers and a friend light up on WE’s “Joan & Melissa,” have giggle fits, and chant for a food truck.

“Mad Men,” the 1960s-set show, has sent up a number of pot smoke signals, including Don wryly proclaiming “I smell creativity” as the aroma of weed wafts through the ad agency.

The generally lighthearted way that weed is now represented on TV parallels the role it plays for casual users, many of them baby boomers who came of age during the pot liftoff of the 1960s. The drug is deployed as comic relief, complete with classic stoner types lifted out of Cheech & Chong movies....

But then there are images of more functional smokers, such as the group on “How I Met Your Mother” or the literary guys on “Bored to Death.” The pot smoker doesn’t always need to be an exercise in hippie self-parody. On TV, smoking pot arguably carries less of a stigma than smoking cigarettes.

Early on, says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, “You’d have ‘Reefer Madness’ on the one hand or Cheech & Chong on the other. Now you still have ‘Harold & Kumar,’ but it has become less and less of a thing. Marijuana represents something about the context of the scene, but not a major part of it anymore.”

He points to “Six Feet Under” as a series that showed “the good, bad, and indifferent” aspects of marijuana; “It committed to a realistic portrayal.”

As goes the nation and the law, so goes TV?

As more states relax toward cannabis with legalization, decriminalization, and medical use, are TV writers weaving in more pot use with less moral evaluation? 

Actually, TV has been portraying weed in a casual fashion for almost two decades now, long before Zach Galifianakis smoked a real-looking joint on “Real Time With Bill Maher” in 2010, long before the three dudes on “Workaholics” were cheating on their regular dealer with a new dealer in order to buy more pot to get stoned enough to get hungry enough to win a pizza-eating contest.

From “That ’70s Show” (1998-2006) to “Weeds” (2005-12), pot has not been an occasion for preachy TV lessons in the dangers of all drugs. It has been positioned by writers as a sort of nationwide in-joke and as a fact of life. Yes, “Mad Men” has shown carefree pot use this season, but it included it back in season 1, too....

The longtime presence of casual marijuana use on TV is a classic example of how art and entertainment sometimes reflect new ways of thinking before that thinking actually changes laws. Our TV shows are our culture’s collective stream of consciousness, a blending of social and political leanings, and consciousness is often a few years ahead of the legal system.

Just before President Obama came out in favor of legalizing gay marriage last spring, for example, Vice President Biden linked the nation’s growing comfort with gay equal rights to the highly rated sitcom “Will & Grace.” “When things really begin to change is when the social culture changes,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

“Will & Grace,” along with “Ellen,” “Roseanne,” “Six Feet Under,” and daytime soap operas, were exploring same-sex relationships and inequality with mainstream audiences long before Massachusetts led 11 other states (plus D.C.) in allowing gay marriage.

The real turn regarding pot on TV came in the mid- to late 1990s, long after the first waves of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, just before Homer Simpson on “The Simpsons” got a medical marijuana prescription and silliness ensued. Back in the ’90s, says Dan Skye, editorial director of High Times magazine, “TV shows were being paid to put antidrug statements into their plotlines. . . . We’ve come a long way since then, and I don’t think that anybody would do that anymore.” 


Since 2000, we’ve seen steady though not particularly troublesome indulgence by the gangs on “Entourage,” “Freaks and Geeks,” and “Gossip Girl.” “South Park” and “Family Guy” have had a heyday with legalization, including a “South Park” episode in which locals give themselves cancer to get a pot prescription. And scared-straight episodes of shows such as “The Facts of Life” have become objects of ironic amusement for their “Reefer Madness”-like telegraphing

Is the frequency and ease of marijuana on TV part of a liberal agenda, with Hollywood foisting a pro-legalization message on passive viewers?

As long as it isn't a pro-war message.


The article sounded elitist to me, but maybe I'm just be paranoid.

Related: You Can Not Trust Your TV 

And it's not because of hallucinations from the pot.

Where I got the stuff:

"3 making plans for medical marijuana dispensaries; State officials are finalizing process to license medical marijuana shops" by Kay Lazar |  Globe Staff, June 18, 2013

$500,000 that is required by the state to be eligible to apply for a license.

That's expen$ive pot!

Jonathan Napoli, who has two young daughters, a farming background, and a garden shop in Roxbury’s Dudley Square, said he has lined up a location for the dispensary, the now-vacant retail condo next door to his garden shop on Washington Street in Dudley Square, just down the street from a $115 million redevelopment project that will house Boston’s School Department headquarters.

Napoli’s plans have upset some in the neighborhood, including Joyce Stanley, executive director of Dudley Square Main Streets, a business group whose mission is to revitalize the neighborhood and reduce crime.

“We already have enough crime here,” Stanley said.

Fear of increased crime around dispensaries is a complaint commonly heard across the country and in many communities in Massachusetts, the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana. Research is scant on the subject, but two recent studies suggest crime rates are not higher near the facilities, especially if security measures, such as cameras mounted outside the building, are clearly visible.

Hey, look, don't let the FACTS get in the way of the stereotypes.

Having a guard outside also appears to ward off crime, said Bridget Freisthler, an associate professor of social welfare at UCLA and coauthor of a study published in February that evaluated security measures and crime rates at 31 Sacramento dispensaries.

“A lot of communities require security cameras, but a lot don’t think about requiring [security guards] outside,” she said.

Massachusetts rules require security cameras but are silent about guards.

The Germaine family’s dispensary, planned for Pittsfield, would include a “casino-grade” security system, including outdoor cameras that send live feeds to local police, but at this point, no security guards.

Eric Germaine, 64, a retired South Shore veterinarian with a longtime family home in the Berkshires, is teaming up with his 28-year-old daughter Julia and her boyfriend, Nial DeMena, also 28, and said they have the required finances and envision an environmentally friendly dispensary and cultivation site run by solar, geothermal, and reusable battery power.

Eric Germaine said he misses health care and was drawn to the idea of a marijuana dispensary by DeMena, who helped care for an aunt in Maine with multiple sclerosis who used marijuana to relieve nausea from her treatments.

“Medical marijuana is not for everyone, but for those who it does help, it’s a deeply rewarding experience both for the patient and the caregiver,” Germaine said.

Catherine Cametti, a 50-year-old real estate appraiser known as Rina who is hoping to open a facility in Norfolk County, is a Norwood native and owner of a local real estate appraisal company, with a degree in business management, said she has no personal experience with medical marijuana, but has been intrigued with the idea of starting a dispensary since the law was passed last year.

“I voted for it,” Cametti said. “At that point, I thought if I were a patient and something like this could help me, I would be all for it.” She said the more she researched the issue, the more determined she was to open a dispensary.

Cametti said she has the finances in place, a six-member board, consultants who have helped dispensary start-ups in other states, and is in negotiations for a lease, but declined to name the location or community until the deal is signed....


Also see4/20: Green Rush in Massachusetts


Slow Saturday Special: Massachusetts' 4/20 Fees
4/20: Massachusetts Insuring Medical Marijuana Stays on the Shelves
 4/20: Massachusetts Lets the Joint Go Out  

Because you can't od on pot.