Stoners in the Media's Eyes

Updated on February 26, 2018

If I were to ask you to characterize the stereotypical stoner I'm pretty sure we'd have the same picture in mind. Before you even gave a description, images of scraggly-looking bums who don't have a job and sit around and watch TV all day are probably what pop into your head, and this stereotype has been widely pushed through media for decades now. The typical Cheech and Chong type who walk around with their heads in the clouds and can't form a coherent sentence could not be much further from the truth.

History of the Plant

Marijuana, which is a plant that is found naturally has been used by cultures dating back at least 12,000 years. It is believed that it first evolved in Central Asia in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia. Burned cannabis seeds have been found in many tombs and burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C.

It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911. Some of the earliest prejudices against cannabis came from newspapers that were extremely racist and would report false information of the Mexicans that were smoking it and introducing it to the U.S. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act put cannabis under the regulation of the Drug Enforcement Agency, criminalizing possession of the plant throughout the country.

Government propaganda from 1924
Government propaganda from 1924


There has been such a stigma surrounding the topic of cannabis for so long now it will be interesting to see how long until it fades away. We break through so many social barriers and have come so far as a nation, but to ban the use of a flower seems a bit ridiculous. Since the movie Reefer Madness came out many decades ago suggesting that smoking cannabis causes you to commit violent crimes it seems that there has been a wider acceptance by the public. Most have come to the realization that it actually isn't as harmful as was once the sentiment, but that doesn't mean that it is for everybody.

Today, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD, indicating it has high potential for abuse and addiction, no accepted medical uses and no safe level of use. Meanwhile drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine are all Schedule II. This horrible misconception of the classification of cannabis is starting to become more recognized, which in turn has lead to much effort in changing it. It seems inevitable that it will become legal everywhere, but with the current administration there seems to be little progress to be made on this because of Jeff Sessions and many others who will not be convinced to legalize it.

  • 0 People have died as a direct cause of marijuana in history
  • 6 million die from tobacco each year
  • 2.5 million die from the harmful use of alcohol each year
  • 50,000+ die from opioid overdoses each year

Weed in Modern Media

Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke was a film that was the first of its kind in many ways that had not been done on the screen before. It was the first movie to feature stoners and to have them as the "good guys" and the cops as the "bad guys" while they are searching for a joint so they can start a band. The movie became a classic and for anyone who considers themselves a stoner then there is a very high chance they have seen it.

Up in Smoke was a pioneer for the genre and many more classics were born because of it including Pineapple Express, Harold and Kumar, and Half-Baked. Most movies that fall into this category are all very much the same as the main characters are loopy-headed and have the munchies. The movies appeal to a subculture, but in a way they are classics and appeal to the masses.

In Super High Me, Doug Benson takes a cleanse from marijuana and refrains from using the drug for over a month. After his month-long cleanse, he smokes marijuana every day for a month straight to test its long-term effects. The drug seemed to have no apparent long-term effects on his body or his mind, which totally goes against everything that the rejecters of legalizing are claiming.The show Weeds, which can be found on Netflix as well as many of the others, features a widowed mother of two children who starts selling marijuana in her suburban neighborhood in order to provide for her family.

Netflix recently announced that one of its series, Disjointed, will not be returning for a this season, and for many people who have seen it that news comes as a relief. The show had a good concept, which was making a comedy out of a dispensary owner and her life, but the humor and the portrayal of the stoners was so horrible and inaccurate, it was hard to watch. I have seen a few different shows that highlight the use of marijuana, and this was not one that stuck out like Weeds, High Maintenance, and That 70's Show.


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