California’s now legal recreational pot market will influence change worldwide because of its enormous cultural clout to reshape thinking.
Just as California’s television industry “normalized” gay marriages, so too will it caress public opinion into accepting that smoking weed is as normal as eating bacon and eggs for breakfast.
There can simply be no denying that throughout the decades, California has been the heart and soul of cultural change – from the flower power hippie era to the clean-cut all-American Beach Boys craze, from the acceptance of homosexuality to the introduction of marijuana as a legal drug for social enjoyment.
Since declaring pot legal at the beginning of this year, industry pundits have used taxes and job creation as their springboard for California’s entry into the legal marijuana recreational-use market. But there are those who point to the state’s inbred movie and Silicon Valley culture as the real impetus for social acceptance.
TV changed Middle American thinking
They point out that TV sitcom’s like “Will and Grace” changed Middle American thinking about homosexuality, a fact underlined by the real-life antics of public kissing and fondling by same-sex celebrities and the number of household-name actors and actresses who “came out of the closet” and declared their same-gender preferences.
Then there were TV shows like “Weeds” which ran for eight seasons and won both Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. Mary-Louise Parker portrayed a widow who worked very hard to support her children and pay off her late husband’s debts by growing and selling pot. Then there was “Disjointed” by Netflix, starring Kathy Bates, which told the story about the workers at a Los Angeles pot dispensary. The show depicted dispensary customers as upright, productive and hard-working citizens, dispelling contrary beliefs that marijuana users are exactly the opposite.
Just as with “Will and Grace”, these pot-based TV shows played a significant role in changing the traditional anti-pot opinions of many Middle Americans.
California Culture marches on
So, there can be little doubt that California has been setting trends followed worldwide for countless years. According to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, global trends set by the American television, film, and music industries are not expected to wane anytime in the near future.
—-> California’s technological and cultural advances have impacted almost every corner of the globe
—-> California’s Silicon Valley, home to giants like Apple and Google, is as familiar to foreign tongues abroad as those living right here
—-> California’s movie stars are idolized and their dress codes, hairstyles, and way of life is followed and duplicated by millions worldwide
—-> California’s population is comparable in size to that of Canada
—-> And although representing only one of America’s 50 states, California’s economy is ranked sixth in the world – ahead of countries such as India and France
Add to this the fact that California has been molding social perceptions for an untold number of years, including public opinion about marijuana, and there can be no denying its influence on changes in the future. How many places can lay claim to this power of influence?
Now that adult Californians can buy and consume marijuana legally, it is inevitable that a slew of new TV shows and films will emerge, once again impacting on public perceptions that will give pot a new and respectable image; an image that will portray smoking a tope as being as normal as drinking a beer after a long day at work.
“Normalization” of cannabis will lend credence to initiatives in other states to legalize pot. In fact, a recent study by the Consumer Research Around Cannabis shows that marijuana users in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Los Angeles are generally white-collar workers, who exercise regularly and are full-time employed, unlike many residents who are non-users.
Taking all these factors into account, it is not unfeasible to surmise that California could become the catalyst for nationwide acceptance of recreational pot usage.
As marijuana is “normalized” by the TV, music and film industries, so too could the role California plays cause positive social, racial, economic and public health change.
In the end, it will be the Californian Culture that spurs change, and not just the economic benefits such as taxes, increased job creation, and social good such as using pot money to build schools, that legalization promises in this unfolding and never-ending story.