Hollywood pushes higher grade of film, TV stoners

Fri Aug 1, 2008 3:54pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marijuana is not just for dopes anymore, at least not in Hollywood.

Thirty years after comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong popularized the myth of stoners as amiable goofballs in "Up In Smoke," film and television producers are instead portraying pot smokers as regular folks from all walks of life.

On TV, there is "Weeds," which became a hit on cable network Showtime following its 2005 debut. It revolves around a widowed mom who deals dope to make ends meet.

Among movies, the "Harold & Kumar" movies center on a stoner investment banker and medical school candidate. In the art-house film "The Wackness," Sir Ben Kingsley plays a pot-smoking psychiatrist and, in the upcoming comedy "Pineapple Express," Seth Rogen portrays a sky-high legal process server.

Some culture watchers say these new portrayals promote use of the illegal drug use among children, while the film and TV producers argue they simply reflect a change in society.

Many say these relatively recent depictions would have been harder to present in the past with U.S. administrations backing the "war on drugs" that dates to the early 1970s, including the Reagan White House's "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980s.

"Political climates and cultural climates kind of go together. That was a more conservative era in lots of ways," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project which advocates decriminalization of the drug.

A 2005 study by California-based Rand Corp found government's anti-drug campaign had not led to "substantial decreases in the severity of America's drug-related problems."   Continued...

<p>Comedians Cheech &amp; Chong, Cheech Marin (L) and Tommy Chong, pose with artificial marijuana plants for photographers after announcing their first comedy tour in 25 years during a news conference in Los Angeles July 30, 2008. Marijuana is not just for dopes anymore, at least not in Hollywood. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>