Mass Media Casts Shadow on Medical Marijuana Industry

Despite being legal in 22 states, the medical marijuana issue continues to draw debate in the form of television shows and documentaries. With such controversy at its heart, it’s no wonder this medicinal substance used to treat pain in cancer and other patients invokes such heated commentary on screen. From shows like Weed Country to documentaries like Code of the West, the goal is to educate and inform, but also take sides on an issue that just can’t find a common ground.

The “Reality” of Reality ShowsMedical Marijuana Industry

Hopping on the band wagon of reality shows, series like Weed Wars have cropped up over the last few years to open up a window on the life of those involved in the medical marijuana lifestyle and business. While enlightening in some respects, these shows do little to open up the minds of mainstream America to the healing properties marijuana delivers to people in chronic pain.

Many of these shows came on the air right around the time federal prosecutors started to turn the screws on medical marijuana shop owners, citing their state-licensed dispensaries regulated by local government agencies, according the the Huffington Post. What typically ends up happening is the shows cast a bad light on the medical marijuana industry as a whole, yet choose to focus on sensationalizing the police, growers and distributors rather than hit on the true issue. This increased scrutiny in the public eye has its advantages, though, bringing to light an issue that was only whispered in certain circles before. Like homosexuality, meth labs, child abuse and rape before it, TV shows are the new breeding ground to expose the giant underbelly of what’s really going on in society.

Ditching the Stigmas

Serving to curb the stigmas, misconceptions and stereotypes about medical marijuana, Weed Wars and others are gaining popularity among a TV viewership eager to see this issue come to the forefront. That being said, like any reality show, drama is injected to give the viewers what they want: over the top views of the medical marijuana industry as seen from those really living it. Good or bad, shows like Weed Country aim to shatter the stigma associated with medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, with the focus on the “reality” TV stars within these shows, the negative connotations are still ever-present. Even with exploratory and information documentaries, the industry continues to seek the respect it deserves. Still, these documentaries work to capture the human stories behind the law-making processes of state-level marijuana reform through intelligent indie films like Code of the West and weak attempts at comedy with Super High Me, which chronicles a man’s physical and mental journey smoking marijuana for 30 days straight.

Despite its legality in more than 20 states, medical marijuana still captures a cult following as opposed to its more socially acceptable and legal cousin, alcohol. With more TV shows on the horizon highlighting the use and cultivation of medical marijuana, this calming substance has many more hurdles ahead of it in a desperate attempt to defend itself.