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How Television Transformed Public Opinion about Marijuana in Canada

Marijuana and buying weed online has long been considered an illegal and poisonous drug in North America, particularly after US President Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971. The proclamation saw marijuana placed among the Schedule I drugs by the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana in Canada was also illegal and dangerous until 2018.

Marijuana was declared illegal and labeled poisonous in Canada in 1923 by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. However, medical marijuana was allowed in 2001 after some researchers discovered it to be useful in the treatment of certain ailments.

For the last three decades, public opinion about marijuana has undergone a radical transformation, particularly because of television programs. TV has become an important social influence in the 21st century because of the increased availability of technology and the Internet.

Television has been particularly important concerning marijuana perspectives in two ways:

Changing People’s Perspectives about Marijuana

TV programs became an important route to change public opinion through the depiction of characters who used marijuana. Between 1990 and 2000, TV programs heavily portrayed marijuana as a dangerous drug. It was also portrayed as a gateway drug, meaning that it allowed or promoted the use of other hard drugs like heroin.

One TV program that heavily portrayed marijuana as a poison and gateway drug was the television show “Beverly Hills 9021” on Prime Television. The TV producers made the show to match political and social trends of the time which was the war on drugs. However, the 2008- 2013 remake of the show portrayed marijuana radically differently.

In fact, marijuana was portrayed as a “cool” drug that was even smoked by everyone’s favorite school teacher. Prime Television became so inclined to changing public perspective on the matter that Parents Television Council negatively commented about the company, declaring it a marijuana enthusiast.

More and more TV shows, movies, and programs that have been released since 2010 have portrayed positive attitudes toward marijuana. Among these include Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” by ABC production studios. These new TV shows portray marijuana as a non-lethal and beneficial drug over a poison classified under Schedule I Drugs.

Advocating for the legalization of Marijuana

Canada became the first G7 and G20 nation to legalize marijuana in 2018. It was also the first country to do so after Uruguay. The legalization of marijuana in Canada did, however, not come lightly. Several bills and acts have come before the Senate and House in Canada to legalize the drug since 2000 but all failed. It was not until 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assumed office that marijuana legalization became feasible.

In 2015, Justin Trudeau introduced several bills and acts in the Senate and House which would help curb the increasing abuse of marijuana by youths in the country. The passing of the bill took about three years since public opinion was not yet ripe for marijuana legalization.

TV programs since 2010 have repeatedly commended states in the US that legalized recreational marijuana which has been important in advocating for its legalization. Moreover, its depiction as a harmless recreational drug has favored public opinion concerning its legalization.

Furthermore, recent research highlighting the US’s war on drugs was rather a war on blacks meant to criminalize black individuals disproportionately. In light of this research, which TV programs have been more than eager to depict, many states in the US decided to decriminalize the drug.

Canadians’ perceptions about marijuana were already positive by 2015, but the Senate decided to postpone legalization to 2018 to avoid a rapid escalation of its use. TV programs were also helpful in showing people that marijuana could be ingested via edibles over smoking which further fostered its popularity. Television has thus been a radical influencer to public opinion, especially about controversial topics like marijuana legalization.

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