While most cannabis themed TV shows these days actively try to paint users as ‘normal people’, whatever that means, one new show is going against the grain by depicting pot users as they truly exist in the wild.
Netflix just dropped a new installment of its sitcom, Disjointed. The show stars Oscar-winner Kathy Bates as a burned-out California weed lawyer who runs a dispensary out of the coffee shop from Friends, which is now in a California strip mall.
Other notable characters include a delightfully witless and naive new-age weed grower, two impossibly off-the-wall Youtube smoke-show stars, and of course, one straightedge with a legitimate medical need whose life is miraculously transformed after a single puff of the sacred herb.
All of these characters are undoubtedly familiar to anyone who has used cannabis for any length of time. Walk into any dispensary, access clinic, or dealer’s living room in the land, and these are the people you’ll meet.
Which is why it is so disheartening to see so many new TV shows that try to depict cannabis users as ‘normal’ people—especially shows that aren’t specifically about cannabis, but feature characters who use cannabis regularly, yet somehow manage to retain some semblance of their ‘normalcy’ in the process.
This trope has even started to spill out into real life cannabis marketing, with companies like Balmoral Puff piggybacking their brands on the cultural chimeras being put forth in high profile, high budget shows like Dabtown Abbey on PBS and Spark and Catch Fire on AMC.
This depiction of cannabis use without serious social and mental consequences, good or bad, is dangerously misleading. While cannabis use is a zillion times safer than say, crossing the street or doing hot yoga, it is a disservice to the public to pretend that it is not without its consequences.
As any real person who has smoked weed regularly for any length of time will tell you, it changes you. Maybe you used to like the smooth stylings of Rita MacNeil, but now it’s Bob Marley and Toots all day long. Maybe the highlight of your day used to be watching The National on CBC, but now it’s an endless cycle of Trailer Park Boys reruns. Whatever form they take, these changes manifest universally, no matter how well-adjusted and/or educated a person might be when they finally sign their soul over to the sweet smoke.
The reality is that the life of any regular cannabis user will invariably be a bizarre mash-up of psychedelic animated sequences, corny jokes, and people generally just ‘being silly’. The sooner our culture can get its head around this fact, the sooner we can move on to dealing with the the reality of a post-legalization world—a world that is truly Disjointed.
Sam McCool is on the board of directors at Predictable Approaches to Marijuana Canada (PAM Canada), a nonprofit devoted to keeping ‘big sugar’ out of the cannabis industry. He is also an avid fly fisherman, and has written several books on the dangers of tightrope walking.
Featured image from Netflix’s Disjointed.
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*This article is a satirical work. Any resemblances between real life and the entities depicted in this fiction are entirely coincidental.