Monday, September 22, 2008

Yes on 2

Two of the three movies I saw in theaters over the summer centered on the friendship forged between a stoner and his dealer. However, these two movies, The Wackness and Pineapple Express, have little else in common.

Pineapple Express is an action-comedy buddy flick. Seth Rogen plays Dale Denton, a shiftless pothead who is on the run with his dealer (James Franco) after witnessing a murder. The Wackness is a poignant bildungsroman set in NYC in 1994. Josh Peck plays Luke Shapiro, a recent high school graduate and pot dealer who befriends one of his customers, psychiatrist Dr. Squires (played by a brilliant Ben Kingsley), while falling in love with Squires' step-daughter (Olivia Thirlby). The Wackness, directed by Jonathan Levine, played on 6 screens its opening weekend. Pineapple Express, directed by David Gordon Green and produced by Hollywood's darling du jour Judd Apatow, opened on more than 3000 screens.

Aside from these and other technical differences, the films are fundamentally different in their ideologies. They deviate in their representations of marijuana, the people who use it, and the effect it has.

In Pineapple Express, pot is the source of gang violence and polic corruption. The major players in the drug trade are "bad guys." A farcical prologue shows the illegalization of marijuana as the arbitrary result of a stoned Private insulting his superior. In the film, smoking pot, an act that is exclusive to white males, brings people together superficially, but is ultimately harmful to social relationships.

In The Wackness, pot is shown to be benign, especially in comparison to commonly abused drugs such as alcohol and prescription medications, which are legal, yet less accessible than pot. As implied by the film, the illegality of marijuana is a matter of politics, not because of any harmful property of the drug. Smoking pot helps to forge meaningful social relationships across generations, social classes, and economic statuses.

My pot smoking experience is non-existent. However, I've been friends with the stoner crowd since high school. Drawing on that extensive experience, I have come to certain conclusions about pot. Some are negative, some are positive, but my overall stance on the matter is neutral. Marijuana is what it is.

In the general election this November, voters in Massachusetts will have the opportunity to vote to decriminalize adults' possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. The bill, which will appear on the ballot as Question 2, will also impose additional (non-criminal) penalties on minors. The current presidential race is sure to elicit an impressive voter turnout. Hopefully the people will make their voices heard on this issue as well.

- More info about Question 2 on

- More info about the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy initiave

Images used in this post were culled from Google Image Search.

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