Recent portrayals in ‘Ballers’ and ‘Disjointed’ include outdated depictions of the cannabis industry as it becomes more regulated.
Hollywood has a drug problem.
As America slowly crawls out from under the devastating weight of a failed War on Drugs, much of the entertainment industry still treats legal marijuana as a low-hanging punchline or forgettable, if buzz-worthy backdrop — as opposed to the most significant drug policy shift of our lifetimes.
And I get it. I’ve worked in the regulated cannabis industry since 2009, and I see these compelling stories and the inherent humor on a daily basis. I agree that Hollywood should be telling these stories, and as one of the primary subjects of the MSNBC docuseries Pot Barons, I even have firsthand experience in this still-new confluence of the entertainment and cannabis industries.
But as Hollywood tells these stories, writers and directors should also be more responsible in their depiction of this thoroughly modern entity known as the legal, regulated cannabis business. Most Americans have never experienced this industry firsthand, and so seeing these inaccurate televised depictions only enforces the negative stereotypes that we’ve already moved beyond in post-prohibition markets.
And just as expert consultants play pivotal roles in the writing rooms of medical dramas and crime serials, we’re entering an era where some of these same productions will require authorities from the legal marijuana space to ensure they’re getting it right and not embarrassing themselves — or the responsible entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
I first found myself thinking about this a few weeks ago when my fiancé and I sat down for the premiere of Ballers’ third season on HBO. I was thrilled as they teased character Vernon Littlefield’s potential involvement in the cannabis industry; With former Oakland