Is There Too Much Marijuana on Prime Time TV?


By Allen St. Pierre

I was asked by Fox Newsto discuss a clear and growing trend on prime time TV: cannabis use

While there have been dozens of prime time TV shows that have featured cannabis use since the 1960s, often for medicinal purposes circa the mid 1990s, currently there is a crush of shows on broadcast and cable that have one or more episodes where cannabis use is a featured part of the show. In my view, most if not all of these shows spotlighting cannabis is both an effect of the general popularity of cannabis and the herb’s prohibition.

What precipitated this on-air discussion is the concern of the socially conservative Parents Television Council that there is too much cannabis use on TV and that this sends the proverbial ‘wrong message to children’.

So what shows are we generally talking about?

-- The Simpsons
-- Family Guy
-- American Dad
-- Cleveland Show
-- Gossip Girl
-- Glee
--Parenthood (NORML Outreach Coordinator writes about the premiere episode of the show that featured…guess what?)
-- Parks and Recreation

Ironically, we were debating the appropriateness of cannabis in these popular shows on the very network that largely produces the shows in question.

While most parents will rightly be upset and concerned if there is overt and gratuitous cannabis use on youth-oriented shows that glamorize drug use in prime time TV, but an evaluation of the story plot lines on these shows in question will often find it is the prohibition of the herb that creates the narrative friction, plot line tensions or character conflicts—not the cannabis use per se.

Counter intuitive as may sound to some, but if the experience of tobacco and alcohol products (which are illegal for children to use) in prime time TV are an indicator of how certain drugs become unpopular, then for cannabis use to be de-glamorized and made culturally passé it will have to be made legal, actually controlled (prohibition is the abdication of social controls and policy-making) and moderately taxed.

With ‘4/20’ just around the corner, if the experience of the last few years serve as any guidance, there will be a number of TV shows, and entire networks such as G4, Spike and Comedy Central that will have special 4/20 programming.



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