Marijuana in Hollywood

Marijuana in Hollywood

Marijuana is a drug that has been highly debated by advocates of drug defense and those desiring a drug free America. Hollywood has the greatest platform for those in defense of the drug as we’ve seen it depicted as a comedic relief in many instances thus allowing those movies to garner box office sales. Not only are we seeing it used on the big screen, but time and time again reports of celebrities abusing this drug or arrested for possession are becoming all too common. But even with the use of it on the big screen in Hollywood waning over the past five years, producers and movie makers begin to see a rebound in the fact that this is something OK to do, on and off screen.

Marijuana in Film

Some would say producers can land financing for stoner films if they depict the users as out-of-it slackers for comedic effect. It all depends on how it is depicted in a film that serves as the basis for film financing. However, films featuring characters using marijuana have sky rocketed in the past decade. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the second movie to feature the titular pot-smoking characters, grossed nearly $15 million on its opening weekend, which might foreshadow a big opening for August’s Pineapple Express, a comedy about a pot smoker and his supplier on the run. Others coming out are The Wackness, with portrayal of a bong-using psychiatrist; Humboldt County, in which a medical student spends a summer in a marijuana-farming town; and Super High Me, about a comedian using the drug for 30 days.

These movies, most written by writers under the age of 40, represent a shift in Hollywood. Advocates for a Drug Free America worry that movies like this may make the behavior appear normal, creating bad role models for upcoming generations. But a spike in pot use on-screen doesn’t appear to mirror any social trend. Marijuana use has declined modestly in recent years, especially among teens if government statistics – which rely on self-reporting – and other surveys are accurate.

Prior to now, only a few stoner movies, such as Up in Smoke (1978) and Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), made money during their theatrical run, thanks largely to low budgets. Others, such as Half-Baked, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and The Big Lebowski were underachievers – much like their characters. But these initial flops scored big on home video, which explains why producers continue to invest in fare such as a “Harold and Kumar sequel and November’s little-seen Smiley Face. Lately, though, a generation of comedy filmmakers who grew up watching movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High have incorporated humor from stoner movies into frat-humor films targeting a broader audience. Recent movies such as Old School, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall have featured characters who smoke marijuana.

Nonetheless, antidrug campaigners say it’s time for Hollywood to tighten up on these particular types of projects coming out of an influential society. They worry that the public will begin to see attitudes returning about the usage of drugs amongst kids. Most celebrities in Hollywood, however, have never been the picture of moral conviction regarding their actions in daily life.

Celebrity Marijuana Usage

In 2009, Jamie Waylett, who plays Vincent Crabbe in the Harry Potter series, was charged with growing 10 marijuana plants in his home. The alleged cannabis enthusiast was apprehended when London police stopped his car and reportedly found eight bags of pot.

Olympic gold medallist, Michael Phelps has been under major public scrutiny since a picture of him allegedly inhaling from a marijuana pipe was released by British tabloid News of the World in Feb. 2009. The tabloid claimed the photo was taken at a party at the University of South Carolina in November 2008. Phelps released a statement the same day, saying: “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 and, despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way — not a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

Willie Nelson has been a longtime marijuana user and advocate and openly poses for photos of himself using the drug. In September 2006, Nelson was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana on his tour bus in Lafayette, LA. The country singer headlined the Austin Freedom Fest in 2007, with all proceeds going to policy reform groups that seek to end marijuana prohibition.

Actor and rapper Calvin Broadus, a.k.a. Snoop Dogg, has been a longtime user of the drug, despite taking a hiatus from using in 2002, telling Access Hollywood that he “just woke up one morning” and decided he “didn’t need it anymore.” However, Broadus was cited for marijuana possession outside a New York City night club in February 2008. The rapper speaks of his marijuana usage in many of his songs, including “Smoke Weed Everyday.”

Actors Seth Rogan and James Franco share an alleged joint before presenting the Best Movie So Far award at the 17th Annual MTV Movie Awards. Of the actors’ exchange, The New York Daily News wrote that the “sweet scent wafting through the Gibson Amphitheatre suggested the herb was real.”

Actress Frances McDormand appeared on the cover of High Times magazine in May 2003. “I’m a recreational pot smoker. There has never been enough of a distinction between marijuana and other drugs. It’s a human rights issue, a censorship issue and a choice issue,” she said. In the 2002 film Laurel Canyon, McDormand plays Jane Bentley, a free-spirited, marijuana-smoking, record producer.

Marijuana Help

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