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Research Paper Rough Draft 5

Research Paper Rough Draft 5

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Published by Jamie Crawford

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Published by: Jamie Crawford on Dec 07, 2012
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Crawford 1Jameson CrawfordAngel MatosWR 13300-0627 November 2012Popular Culture and Society's View of MarijuanaThe production and distribution of illicit drugs had almost never been a television series'subject until the arrival of the highly acclaimed television series
Weeds
on Showtime andNetflix. Together, Showtime and Netflix establish an enormous audience base for the showdepicting marijuana. Popular music artists such as Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dog often boast intheir songs about the hefty amount of pot they smoke daily. Does popular culture have anyconnection to American society's recent acceptance of marijuana socially and politically? JenjiCohen's
Weeds
and popular rap/hip-hop music show how popular culture reflects and perhapseven affects a growing social and political acceptance of marijuana in an increasingly libertariansociety.
Weeds
portrays marijuana itself as harmless, maintains a sophisticated attitude towardsthe drug and for the most part, uses light-hearted humor. Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dog claim touse the drug daily and manage to be successful figures with many devout fans.The History of Marijuana UseTo understand marijuana's connection with American society, it's important to look at itshistory and to look back at studies done in the later half of the twentieth century. In the chapter"Marijuana Overview" in Rober Emmet Long's book 
 Drugs and American Society
, severalstudies on cannabis are presented. The book was published in 1986 which goes to show ahistorical account of studies done on the drug in the twentieth century. Long writes that there arelimitations of marijuana research, but includes a study utilizing surveys to show marijuana use inthe United States. National surveys have found that "over the past 20 years there has been a
 
Crawford 2marked increase in the acceptability of occasional marijuana use among adolescents and youngadults, although there has been some degree of increasing disapproval since 1980" (Long 117).The survey goes to show that before the twenty-first century, marijuana use had been on the rise.Popular culture promoting marijuana acceptance doesn't really appear until the twenty-firstcentury but it is important to note that marijuana use was on the rise before this. In the 1980s,marijuana was as much of a social taboo as it was in preceding decades, but despite the drugbeing a social taboo, adolescents increasingly engaged in using the substance.The national surveys in the 1980s also show that the drug had become more controversialat towards end of the twentieth century. This controversy could possibly be a precursor tomodern controversy in the twenty-first century. In decades before these surveys, it would be safeto say cannabis use was found among isolated groups of spiritual experimenters especially thoseof the 1960s, and remained uncontroversial. But in the 1980s, as these groups of usersbroadened, especially in adolescents, more controversy on the use of cannabis was generated.This growth marks a period of transformation from spiritual experimentation to common use insociety seen at the brink of the twenty-first century.Figure 1Source: Miech, Richard, and Stephen Koester. "Trends In U.S., Past-Year Marijuana Use From1985 To 2009: An Age
 – 
Period
 – 
Cohort Analysis."
 Drug & Alcohol Dependence
124.3 (2012):259-267.
 Academic Search Premier 
. Web. 25 Nov. 2012; Fig. 1.
 
Crawford 3Although there was an increase in marijuana use up to 1985, it's also important to note adecline in marijuana use from 1985 to 1990 (See Figure 1). The trend shows the prevalence of marijuana use declining from 1985 to 1990 and leveling off from 1990 to 2009. This could be aresult of the growing controversy over marijuana. Perhaps as more controversy was generated,more people labeled the drug as a taboo. Despite marijuana use ultimately being the same in2009 as it was in 1990, popular culture waited until the twenty-first century to reflect thecommonplace of marijuana use. But shouldn't popular culture have done this before 1985 whendrug use was on the rise? The answer is no most likely because for whatever reason, society stilldidn't accept its use and marijuana was still a social taboo.It wasn't until the twenty-first century that most of the current 18 states with medicalmarijuana laws would pass them. Five of these eighteen states passed laws in the late 1990s("18 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC."). This seems to be either what set off popularculture's depiction of marijuana as socially acceptable or what was caused by popular culture'sdepiction of marijuana. Half of these states passed their laws after the first season of Weeds.The other half passed their laws before. Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence that legal action onmarijuana occurred during the same time that Showtime's
Weeds
depicted marijuana. Thesubject would reach popular culture with sophistication and the purpose of reflecting thecommonplace of cannabis use resulting from new laws.Weeds and Breaking BadIt's important to note how marijuana is depicted in popular culture in comparison toharder drugs to explain marijuana acceptance. Federal law categorizes marijuana with harderdrugs but popular culture seems to differentiate marijuana from harder drugs. The physicaldanger of marijuana doesn't even compare to the physical danger of harder drugs.
Weeds
showsan illicit drug with questionable danger while
 Breaking Bad 
shows an illicit drug,

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