Legal cannabis consumers in New York City want American television and media to change the way they depict marijuana users, a survey has found. The study was conducted by media and brand consultancy group Miner and Co. Studio.
A majority of the 800 respondents felt that television should do away with its portrayal of “stereotypically silly and forgetful stoners”. Nine of 10 of the cannabis consumers surveyed identified as “present, mindful, open-minded and professional” unlike the “forgetful, bumbling, or sluggish” stereotype in film and television. Of the respondents, 77% had a household income of $75,000 and above, 86% were employed full-time and more than 70% were married with children above 18 years of age.
Negative stereotypes about marijuana consumption hinder greater acceptance and perpetuate stigmas about cannabis, respondents said. About 80% of the respondents said they also want shows to portray characters who use cannabis medically, as that category of consumers faces the same stigmas as recreational users. Eight out of 10 felt that characters on television should be shown consuming cannabis just as they are shown drinking beer, wine or a cocktail, while 73% of millennial respondents said that they would rather watch a character light a joint than drink alcohol.
The study said that cannabis users are an important target group for programmers because they are extensive TV watchers. Respondents said cannabis improved their attention span and interest in television shows. According to the study, a marijuana user is not just more likely to binge-watch a show but also sit through the commercials.
Miner and Co Studio President Robert Miner told The Hollywood Reporter that while the depiction of the bumbling stoner initially helped “drive legalisation and normalisation” of marijuana, the time has come to move beyond the stereotype.
Even though contemporary television shows like HBO’s Ballers and Netflix’s Disjointed revolve around the cannabis industry, critics have pointed out the outdated writing of the characters in the series.
Wendy Robbins, co-creator of The Marijuana Show, a reality series where cannabis entrepreneurs meet investors, told The Hollywood Reporter that documentaries have been doing a better job of showing cannabis consumption. She cited CNN’s Weed 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Viceland’s Weediquette as examples and noted that the stigma of getting stoned or being seen as stoners often prevents people from stepping out to consume cannabis for medical purposes.