Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
BY MICHELLE CHALEN, CLASS OF 2013 —
Today more artists, actors, and tv characters are getting buzzed, and we don’t mean publicity. More and more celebrities are praising the use of marijuana or getting caught smoking this substance.
“Who says I can’t get stoned? Turn off the lights and the telephone. Me, in my house alone, who says I can’t get stoned?”
These are the lyrics sung by John Mayer in “Who Says.” But, Mayer is not the only celebrity guilty of “marijuana-conscious” material.
Renowned artists like Lil’ Wayne and and Snoop Dogg are known for their marijuana image and music. Hip hop stars and musicians are increasingly being open about “toking up” or smoking the “herbal.” For example, Snoop Dogg routinely tweets about it and his popular new song “Lighters Up,” has lyrics that are as candid as John Mayer’s song.
“Put your lighters up. Get high with me . Fly with me.”
“The growing trend in marijuana is being heavily influenced by this idea that it being natural makes it okay, or not healthy, but kind of permissible,” said Anna Owusu, a Senior Counselor at Saint Peter’s University’s Center for Personal Development.
Accodring to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug (15.2 million past-month users).
This may be why we see a growing trend in the industry. Apart from artists continuing this trend in their music, the paparazzi has spotted celebrities smoking behind the wheel. Stars like Amanda Bynes have been photographed smoking marijuana while driving.
There are now 18 states that have already legalized medical marijuana: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. And two states, Colorado and Washington, residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over.
Marijuana may be going mainstream with celebrities leading the way. Many stars live in the state of California, where medical marijuana is legal.
“It’s hard for me imagine someone being like ‘Amanda Bynes is awesome’ I’m going to smoke weed like her too, I wonder if its more kind of like people getting caught up in what other people are doing within a group,” said Anna.
Even stars with a young fan base admit to smoking weed as well. Miley Cyrus, who lives in California, admitted to being a heavy marijuana user when a picture of her smoking a bong was leaked to the public.
Television show writers are adding marijuana to their storylines. Comedy Central’s “Workaholics” is know for being a “stoner-friendly” show. In one episode called “True Dromance,” the trio has run out of things to smoke and have gone on a mission to find marijuana.
“Comedy Central did a really good job of getting the message across to those who smoke, and that is why the show is so good,” said Anthony Pizaro, a smoker.”It’s pretty easy to get since they included the word Dro, in “Dro-mance,””Dro” is a type of weed. Those who don’t smoke weed wouldn’t probably get it.”
But are celebrities to blame for this trend? Not entirely, according to Owusu.
“I think it’s kind of that age old question about their social responsibility and I think it comes back to again that argument of whose responsibility is it, is it celebrities, or is it the parents or community that is supposed to be monitoring. Maybe there needs to be kind of a balanced approach, but I think ultimately there are some people that are really heavily swayed by what they see celebrities do and there are other people that are not,”said Anna.
According to recent studies marijuana use has decreased in the past decade among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. But, this decline in numbers has stalled in the past few years as “attitudes have softened about marijuana’s risks,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Many believe the substance is just becoming more accepted, and the number of states continuing the process of legalizing medical marijuana may just be the proof.