Hollywood Myths, Cracked: What Movies And Shows Get Wrong About Weed Culture
Watching older movies featuring stoners and people paranoid about weed is pretty funny. These movies — like so many — are tiny time capsules, as they remind us how far we’ve come in educating ourselves and breaking down the stigmas of weed culture. After all, it’s 2022, and if people aren’t chowing down on edibles, they’re growing their own marijuana strains or using CBD oils for a myriad of health reasons. Celebrities from Jim Belushi to Seth Rogen have found new life (and new revenue, no doubt) in cultivating cannabis, and many countries around the world are way more lax about cannabis laws and people’s rights to enjoy that joint.
Of course, whether we’re talking about old or new movies, there will always be some inherent comedy found in stoner movies. It’s just too easy to take things like munchies and paranoia and exaggerate them to milk those LOL’s. But just because a lot of us know that these movies do not often represent what it’s really like to get high (and how different it can be for people), it doesn’t mean everyone knows or understands what happens when a person takes a toke. Let’s look, then, at what the movies and shows often get wrong about people blazing a doobie.
Movie Myth: Weed Makes People Hallucinate
Probably the most egregious and laughable claim that movies have made about marijuana over the years is that it supposedly causes the same effects as shrooms and LSD, in that stoners will suddenly see people’s faces melting like ice-cream, or worse — disembodied heads yelling at them.
The only thing accurate about that clip is the feeling of paranoia that sometimes happens, especially among folks who aren’t regular users (or who are prone to paranoia in general). Again, don’t get us wrong — the exaggerated comedy is great and all, but unless a person has a predisposition to psychosis, the only hallucinating effect that’ll occur is a sense of lost time. Honestly, though, who doesn’t have that these days anyway?
Hallucinations among weed smokers are extremely rare, and it isn’t considered a hallucinogenic substance to begin with. Instead, it’s categorized as either a depressant (which can aid in problems like insomnia and anxiety), or a stimulant, which has the opposite effect and carries way fewer risks than other stimulants (like cocaine and methamphetamine). In short, basic cannabis terms: Indica strains will help you chill out, and sativas will give you more energy — not, however, in the way Bender’s weed makes Andrew look like he just dropped Molly in The Breakfast Club.
Movie Myth: Getting High Makes You A Brainless Couch Potato
Oh, the stereotype of the dim-witted marijuana smoker who slouches around all day in the same clothes he’s been wearing for a year with no agency or motivation to do anything other than getting stoned.
In truth, this stereotype has way less to do with smoking ganja and way more with being a young 20-something and coasting along while figuring out life and stuff. Seldom do we see this depiction featuring people in their 30s or 40s. In some ways it very much feels like society’s judgemental projection on young people who are not “adulting” enough.
But even young folks who like to hang out during the day smoking weed and playing games or watching Lonely Island music videos aren’t the dumb idiots movies (and so many anti-pot PSAs) make them out to be. They’re not all dropouts who suffer from some lack of intelligence, and not all of them sit around investing all their time in a bunch of lazy, juvenile ventures (like non-pot smokers don't do that, too).
So many weed smokers are educated, intelligent, and hard-working individuals with solid careers and normal lives. These days, you can’t even tell who’s into weed and who’s not, with many people, young and old, enjoying some form of marijuana use without making it their entire identity. But, we guess, that’s just not as entertaining as the movies show it — although we’d say we’re way past the days when comedy was all about making fun of “dumb” people.
Movie Myth: Stoners Eat The Worst Food
According to the movies, audiences will be utterly confused seeing a couch potato stoner stuffing their face with some sushi. This myth goes hand in hand with the one we just covered, because the idea of “pot smokers only eat junk food” will more likely pertain to a poor 20-something student drowning in debt who can only afford cheap artery-clogging specials.
This, of course, has forever been linked to “the munchies” — an effect brought on by smoking weed that has seen many folks grab whatever is easiest to satiate their increased appetites.
What some may not know (with no help from the movies), is that not everyone even gets the munchies. In fact, some people actually experience the opposite effect, because we all have different metabolisms and not everyone’s going to want a diet made up of soda and chips, no matter how much weed they smoke.
Weed culture has only grown in its support of healthier lifestyles, and (most) people (who can afford it) will rather stock their kitchens with fresh and healthy foods than processed snacks and high-sugar meals. Of course, we’re not saying that’s everyone. We’re simply pointing out the fact that thinking most pot smokers only stuff their faces with garbage is a gross generalization, and just not true.
Movie Myth: Only Men Smoke Weed
Cinema’s biggest pot smokers have mostly consisted of boys and men, with only the occasional girl or woman shown partaking in some green leaf fun. In Half Baked, Mary Jane Potman (subtle) is the only woman among the posse of stoner dudes, and she’s the antithesis of them as everything about her is all anti-pot. The irony here is that the actress, Rachel True, was smoking weed in her hotel room while learning her anti-marijuana lines for the movie. “When I was cast in that role all my friends died laughing because they knew how much I loved weed,” True told Refinery. “I didn’t want to be the one character who was like ‘No, weed is bad!’ I probably smoked while I was preparing for the audition like (pretends to take a drag and inhales) ‘OK sure weed is terrible!’”
In Knocked Up, we again have the one girlfriend (Jodi) in the stoner bro’s group, but at least she gets to partake (even though her character is totally dumbed down, too).
Weeds, the hit TV show of the aughts, was kind of groundbreaking as it starred a woman in the lead role who runs a big cannabis business … only, she didn’t smoke weed herself. Oh, and then there’s the lead-girl stoner comedy film starring Anna Farris and John Krasinski that absolutely nobody saw.
To say that there has been a severe lack of representation when it comes to women who smoke pot (and especially, Black women) is an understatement. Sure, we’ve had two or three TV shows featuring women stoners since “the new days” — Broad City being the best of them, by far — but the list is still far too short to call it even.
As for the movies, well. There was a brief moment when we saw Jennifer Lawrence hitting the pipe in Don’t Look Up, but we wonder if anyone even noticed.
Thumbnail: Warner Bros, CBS Television Distribution