Will Abbott Elementary Ignite Honest Weed Depictions on Network TV?

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February 22, 2024, marked a relatively low-key historic moment in television history, with ABC’s Abbott Elementary airing one of the most authentic depictions of real-life cannabis consumers on a major network television channel in nearly 30 years. In season 3, episode 4 (“Smoking”), several teachers and faculty discuss their various vices, ranging from vaping and drinking wine to microdosing and different kinds of cannabis consumption.

In the episode, Quinta Brunson’s character, Janine, candidly discusses her medical marijuana use while questioning Jacob’s vaping. Despite the on-screen portrayal, Brunson, who also portrayed a pot character in A Black Lady Sketch Show segment, said she isn’t much of a smoker. Also, in the episode, Mr. Eddie mentions his preference for a weekend protein edible bar, prompting Principal Ava Coleman to comment on him making drugs boring. Other staff reveal their CBD use for joint pain or relaxing with a blunt in the bath. At the same time, characters like Mrs. Howard represent lingering cannabis stigmas. 

The authentic-sounding exchange in a school setting immediately stands out as one of the most honest depictions of weed use a network channel has ever shown. Is this a sign that the major channels might be catching up to streaming and basic cable networks? 

Pot on TV

The major network channels (ABC, Fox, NBC, and CBS) have historically been hesitant to depict cannabis in a positive or normalized manner. In a 2020 deep dive into the history of cannabis on TV, writer Jacob Trussell noted that the 1967 revival of the cop drama Dragnet was one of the first productions to feature cannabis since propaganda films of the 1930s and a relatively harmless storyline on The Andy Griffith Show. In the Dragnet episode, Trussell noted that while marijuana is depicted as a drug similar to heroin, those accused of using it …

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Author: Andrew Ward / High Times

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