How Hollywood Stigmatizes Cannabis Use and Glorifies Alcohol Use at the Same Time

    For almost as long as Hollywood has existed, the story of good conquering evil has been one of its most reliable themes. From the golden age of the classic cowboy movie all the way to today’s cops and robbers shows, the good guys (police) vs. the bad guys (criminals) almost always makes for good entertainment. However, there is one aspect of this theme that is just as persistent: the glorification of alcohol use and the stigmatization of cannabis use. 

    No, the bad guys didn’t use cannabis in classic cowboy movies, but the “square jawed, upstanding lawman” almost always drank alcohol. Go look at any of these films. It’s not uncommon to see the sheriff or lawman who stars in the film drinking on the job. In fact, most of the action in these movies happens in the bar, where the “good guy” often has a drink before winning the final shootout or fight with the bad guy. 

    Fast forward to modern television and this casual acceptance of alcohol use by law enforcement continues. At the end of almost every cop show, the police unwind by heading down to the local bar and consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Then, presumably they drive home under the influence. This, of course, poses a great risk to public safety, but that is rarely if ever discussed on the shows. 

    Morgan Freeman.

    The same applies to TV shows about the criminal justice system. Countless episodes of the classic Law and Order end with the prosecutors having drinks on the job to celebrate sending a perpetrator to jail. In all these cases, the use of alcohol is accepted, and the people drinking it are portrayed as moral, upright protectors of the public. There is rarely if ever any thought given to the implications of them drinking on the job or the message that sends to impressionable young viewers. 

    Now contrast that with the portrayal of cannabis users in popular culture or cop shows. The criminals frequently use cannabis, which is passed off by the show as “proof” of their inherent wickedness. Even when they’re not hardened criminals, the cannabis users in most popular culture shows are usually portrayed as lazy slackers who don’t have jobs and sleep on couches because they have no ambition.

    Why is that? There are millions of cannabis users all over the world who are successful in their fields, have strong moral values and contribute to society. But they are rarely if ever seen on TV or in the movies. The reality is that there is a very clear message being sent to viewers and consumers of pop culture. 

    Cannabis is “bad”, and used by “bad guys”.  Alcohol is “OK”, and used by the good guys, even while they’re on the job. It’s time for this old stereotype to die.

    The truth of the matter is that the glorification of alcohol and drinking culture has had a negative impact on society. One need look no further than the annual death toll that results from drunk driving and alcohol fueled domestic abuse to see this. 

    Not every cannabis user is a useless hippie or criminal who can’t get their life together. By the same token, not every lawman who drinks on the job is a positive force in society. Yet most heavy drinkers or functional alcoholics will fall back on the excuse that “whisky or beer is legal” and cannabis isn’t when confronted about it. 

    Well, considering the way drinkers are glamorized and cannabis users are stigmatized in Hollywood culture, it’s easy to understand why alcohol is legal and cannabis still isn’t. This is in spite of the fact that many doctors would probably prefer their patients using cannabis as opposed to drinking whisky. It’s almost as if a propaganda campaign has been going on all these years. 

    Once you open your eyes and see it, you can’t look away. There is something very wrong here. When was the last time you read about a cannabis user who got stoned and beat his wife and kids? There’s no telling how many alcoholics have terrorized their families in the time it took you to read this article. 

    But somehow, the cannabis users on TV are still the bad guys and the heavy drinkers are still the good guys. Really makes you think doesn’t it?

    G13 Club is a private social club for medical and recreational cannabis users based in Barcelona. It is also a space for musical and artistic development that promotes a multitude of activities focused on the expression and exhibition of urban, hip hop, reggae and skate culture.

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