TV & The New Cannabis Culture


APRIL 2018

Legalization has led to a new class of cannabis consumer.

A new class of Cannabis Consumers are reshaping marijuana culture and want to change ingrained perceptions. They are active, engaged and productive and want TV and media to catch up with the times and move beyond ‘stoned’ or ‘out of it’ stereotypes that present an impediment to greater acceptance.

According to a new survey of 800 legal Cannabis Consumers by NYC-based media and brand consultancy Miner and Co. Studio, today’s Cannabis Consumer looks decidedly different than TV and media’s traditional ‘stoner’ portrayal. 

Respondents to the survey were: 

  • 21 to 55 years old (35 years old on average)

  • 51% male; 49% female

  • 77% have a household income of $75K or more

  • 86% employed full-time

  • 73% married or living with a significant other

  • 72% parents of children < 18

  • 49% Democrat; 30% Republican

Mindful and Present Professionals vs. Bumbling and Forgetful Stoners

7 out of 10 of these Cannabis Consumers are frequent consumers of cannabis and cannabis products (several times a week to daily). They do so to enhance their well-being and social experiences with 51% stating they consume cannabis for recreational and medical purposes.

9 of 10 of these respondents self-identify as ‘present’, ‘mindful’, ‘open-minded’ and ‘professional’ and less than half identify as ‘forgetful’, ‘bumbling’ or ‘sluggish’ which they see as part of the stoner stereotype entrenched in outdated media portrayals of Cannabis Consumers. 

Time for TV to Catch Up with the Change in Cannabis Culture

More than 7 of 10 respondents to the survey feel that too many TV shows portray Cannabis Consumers as stereotypically silly and forgetful stoners – and 8 of 10 say they appreciate shows that offer positive portrayals of Cannabis Consumers. 

They recognize that media can play an important role in overcoming the persistent stigmas associated with cannabis, with 7 of 10 saying that seeing characters in shows consume cannabis without being presented as silly and stoned has made them more comfortable discussing their cannabis experiences with others and has also helped their peers become more open about their own cannabis consumption.

Nearly 8 of 10 Cannabis Consumers feel that cannabis consumption in TV shows should be no different than seeing a character consume wine, beer, or a cocktail – and 73% of Millennial respondents (21-38 years old) would prefer to see characters in TV shows consume cannabis rather than alcohol. 

And it’s not just recreational use, 8 of 10 want shows to portray characters for whom cannabis is a legitimate and positive medical option since medicinal consumers of cannabis too frequently face the same stigmas as those who consume recreationally.

Cannabis Consumers are an Engaged TV Audience

Why should networks and studios care what Cannabis Consumers think?  Because they watch a LOT of TV, with 75% stating they watch more TV when consuming cannabis.

 77% note that cannabis improves their attention span so they can watch more TV in one sitting.  They’re more likely to binge-watch (79%), try out new shows and series (77%), feel more immersed in the show that they’re watching (86%) and they say that they’re more likely to let commercials play (77%) when they’ve been consuming cannabis.

86% say cannabis enhances the overall experience of the shows they’re watching. Comedies become funnier for them (88%), they can better appreciate dramas with intense storylines (77%) and find complicated shows easier to watch (71%).  And they’re spreading the word, 93% say they tell others about shows they’ve watched while consuming cannabis.  It has come to play such an impactful role in their TV viewing, that only 15% feel they would enjoy TV just as much if they weren’t consuming cannabis.

And they’re more willing to invest in having more shows to watch. 6 of 10 say they’ve purchased episodes, full series, and movies when they’ve been consuming cannabis and check out streaming service recommendations as well as what’s available for purchase on Demand.

Recognizing the Role of TV in Supporting Greater Acceptance

Cannabis Consumers are aware of the impact TV and media have had in contributing to the growing acceptance of cannabis culture, with 72% saying that having cannabis consumption and consumers portrayed in TV shows and mainstream media has influenced legalization. 

They want their shows to continue to play a positive cultural role in promoting greater acceptance and legalization and 85% want their shows to find ways to have storylines and characters speak out if federal law enforcement starts to prosecute buyers/sellers of cannabis in states where it has been legalized.

“Media has played an incredibly important role in the societal acceptance of cannabis consumption, but there’s still work to do” said Robert Miner, president of Miner & Co. Studio. “The same recognizable trope of the harmless silly stoner that drove normalization has now become an impediment to acceptance for productive and engaged consumers of cannabis.  Recreational consumers feel concern that non-consumers of cannabis will take them less seriously and question their judgement, and consumers of medical marijuana too often find that they need to be careful discussing their use with some peers or employers who may see them as unreliable or lazy based on ingrained stereotypes of cannabis use – even for medical needs. TV and media in general have played a role in reinforcing these perceptions. When a character on a show drinks a beer or a glass of wine, they aren’t presented as an out of control drunk or an alcoholic – but consumption of cannabis in any amount far too consistently turns that character into a zoned out bumbling stoner.  The creative community has an opportunity to recognize the impact of these representations and present cannabis consumption in a more positive light to help overcome the stoner stereotype that casts a stigma on key members of their audience.”