Marijuana’s growing popularity as a recreational drug means marijuana references are now as likely to be found on primetime TV shows like “Portlandia” or “The Simpsons” as they are in our favorite stoner comedies, like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle or Half Baked. So we asked our friends at some of our local dispensaries for their opinions on how weed has affected pop culture. Their responses were incredible.
Many people think this is something recent, but Marijuana’s presence in pop culture goes back much further than that. The first time marijuana was referenced in popular media was 1895, when mention of the drug appeared in Jack London’s novel “The Call Of The Wild.” Marijuana has been featured prominently on shows including “Weeds,” which ran for eight seasons from 2005 to 2012.
Marijuana On TV Shows
Some of TV history’s most successful shows have been directly or loosely related to Marijuana. The marijuana references in these shows range from subtle to obvious, but the most prevalent thread is Marijuana’s relationship with a counter-culture.
“Weeds,” which ran for eight seasons on Showtime, was one of the most famous marijuana-centric TV shows in recent years. In fact, it earned star Mary-Louise Parker an Emmy Award nomination. On a personal note, I remember the year this show finished very vividly because my favorite Cannabis Store in Santa Ana had just opened, what a year that was! Anyhoot, the show follows a widowed suburban mom who begins to sell Marijuana after her husband’s death but then becomes increasingly involved with illegal distribution operations as time goes on. The show explores how Nancy was changed by moving into the drug world while focusing on other characters’ relationships with Marijuana.
Another popular marijuana-themed sitcom is “Portlandia.” This satirical sketch comedy series focuses primarily on hipster culture and its stereotypes, including marijuana use. The first time “Portlandia” mentioned Marijuana was during their second season when Carrie Brownstein’s character asked Fred Armisen if he had any weed. Marijuana has since become one of many themes. A 2015 episode called “Gluten Free Ebola” features multiple stoner characters who speak at length about how great gluten-free food tastes while smoking weed together.
An episode of South Park called “Medicinal Fried Chicken” features a local KFC restaurant giving away buckets of fried chicken laced with medicinal Marijuana (in addition to warning customers not to get too addicted, lol). This episode is particularly notable because the marijuana-laced chicken was developed by a cartel of stoners, including Cartman, Kenny, and Butters.
The marijuana references on “Portlandia” are much more subtle than those found in South Park or “Weeds.” For example, marijuana paraphernalia can be seen through characters’ apartment windows as they smoke weed together. Marijuana also appears throughout the series in scenes where it might typically appear, like at parties or during dinner conversations. However, only viewers who recognize this will understand why these scenes contain marijuana allusions rather than simply seeing random drug use that doesn’t inform any plot points.
Like “Portlandia,” many marijuana references on The Simpsons come down to sight gags involving marijuana paraphernalia. For example, marijuana references on the show include a character who wears marijuana leaves as shoulder pads and another whose hair looks like a marijuana leaf.
Marijuana In Movies
In addition to marijuana references on television, Marijuana is also a popular element in movies. In fact, it’s been estimated that about 99% of all stoner comedies produced since 1985 have contained some reference to Marijuana – and most were released by the same company: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The marijuana smoking scene in Pulp Fiction, about 13 minutes into the movie, was considered so iconic that director Quentin Tarantino included it in both the video for “Tequila” by The Mavericks and “Marijuana’s Lawfully It’s Still Illegal” by Sublime. Other notable examples include “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle” (2004) and “Pineapple Express” (2008). Earlier films like Cheech And Chong’s Up In Smoke tour from 1978 are still considered classic among marijuana enthusiasts today.
One of the most popular marijuana movies is “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.” A comedic stoner movie, this film follows two friends as they go on a quest to find some White Castle burgers after smoking Marijuana. This 2004 comedy was so successful that it led to three sequels: “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” in 2008; “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” in 2011; and “A Very Harold and Kumar Holiday.”
Another marijuana-themed movie is Dazed And Confused, about high school kids who party on the last day of their summer break before starting another year of classes.
In our opinion, none of them would’ve been possible without the OG’s themselves. Cheech and Chong. It wasn’t until the 1970s that marijuana use was popularized, thanks to Cheech & Chong.
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong met during a comedy show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California. They were both part of an opening act with Lenny Bruce called “Lenny’s Rehab.” It was there that they found out about each other’s marijuana usage and became friends due to their shared interests. Shortly after becoming friends, they developed a comedy routine that involved them telling exaggerated stories about their marijuana usage.
This comedy routine was later expanded into a full-length album called “Cheech and Chong.” Since marijuana use in pop culture was so criticized by the media back then, Cheech & Chong were surprised that they actually got away with making an entire movie about Marijuana without much public scrutiny: “Up In Smoke” (1978). Their continued marijuana success has allowed them to remain relevant as counter-culture icons for over four decades now. Even today, their presence on social media platforms like Instagram remains strong due to their constant references to marijuana culture, such as roach clips or smoking weed out of unique pipes.
Marijuana In Music Videos
In addition to being referenced in popular TV shows, Marijuana has appeared more frequently in music videos lately as well – both those aimed at stoners and those that aren’t necessarily intended for them either. One great example of this is Childish Gambino’s song “Bonfire.” This video was released just last month but already has over 10 million views. It features plenty of smoking weed throughout while still having nothing to do with it other than featuring the artist vaping out of his bong occasionally.
Music videos have also become a major source of marijuana references in pop culture. Marijuana references in videos have been used as an easy way to attract Hip-hop artists who are often likely to reference Marijuana because it has been so widely used by people within the culture and community for decades, but other genres often feature Marijuana too. For example, rapper Wiz Khalifa became one of the most popular marijuana advocates among youth after he was arrested for smoking weed while boarding an airplane at the Los Angeles International Airport back in 2014. He later rapped about his experience with lyrics like “I need some dro/ I got things to do and people to see” (from High Life).
Marijuana has even made its way into iconic music videos as well. The 1994 video for Aerosmith’s song “Cryin'” features marijuana use, while Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video in 2011 shows the singer smoking marijuana.
Some of our favorite music videos to watch after indulging in some weed are:
- “Blueberry Yum Yum” – Ludacris
- “Stoned” – Macy Gray
- “Gin and Juice” – Snoop Dogg
- “We Found Love” – Rihanna with plenty of marijuana references.
- “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
Marijuana Lyrics In Music
Music lyrics throughout history have mentioned Marijuana. Marijuana has also made its way into music via song titles, album names, and even by musicians themselves! For example, rapper Drake’s name was inspired by his favorite strain of weed at the time called “Drizzy OG” which is an Indica dominant hybrid that comes from California with notes of citrus pine funk flavors, according to Leafly.
The Beatles were also big marijuana enthusiasts. The group was introduced to Marijuana by Bob Dylan in 1964 after their performance at the London Palladium, and Paul McCartney claims that he wrote “Got To Get You Into My Life” about Marijuana because it “opened his eyes,” according to High Times.
Some famous songs that were inspired by cannabis are:
- “Because I Got High” – Afroman
- “We Be Burnin” – Sean Paul
- “Roll Me Up” – Willie Nelson
- “Mary Jane” – Rick James
- “Blueberry Yum Yum” – Ludacris
- “Got To Get You Into My Life” – The Beatles
- “Sweet Leaf” – Black Sabbath
- “Kaya” – Bob Marley
Marijuana, Weed, Cannabis, or whatever you’d like to refer to it as has been a staple in pop culture for decades, and marijuana references can be found all over TV, movies, music videos, and lyrics. Whether you’re looking to watch some classic marijuana-related films or listen to some old-school marijuana-themed tunes while smoking up yourself, Marijuana is everywhere. As always, be responsible but have fun too!