The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reported last month that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed (25 percent compared with 12 percent). The study said marijuana use increased the risk of developing mental disorders by 40 percent. So much for the "harmless" nature of pot.
There are more worrisome statistics still. The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that among Americans age 12 and older there were 14.8 million current users of marijuana and 4.2 million Americans classified with dependency or abuse of marijuana. Addiction is a real threat. Another 2006 report found 16.1 percent of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse. This compares to six percent in 1992.
There surely are multiple reasons to explain the increasing use of this drug. But one reason for the trend is surely its glamorization by Hollywood, which thinks marijuana is a fun-and-games subject.
"Access Hollywood" has breathlessly promoted a new movie called "The Wackness," set in 1994 New York. A young man sells marijuana out of an Italian-ice cart. He starts seeing a therapist, asking him for guidance on dating a young woman. He pays for the therapy sessions with pot.
If the plot seems tiresome, it's the casting that's truly saddening. The young pot dealer is played by Josh Peck, who just months ago was delighting hundreds of thousands of small children as a rubber-faced jokester on Nickelodeon's teen comedy "Drake and Josh." One of his regular pothead customers is played by Mary-Kate Olsen, half of the famous twins who played the baby sister on the family sitcom "Full House."
Child stars too often go looking for a part to "stretch their range," but that's code for scraping off any odor of a goody-goody reputation. These actors are doing it by glorifying marijuana.
Drug-dealer chic really began with "Weeds," the Showtime pay-cable series starring Mary-Louise Parker as widowed suburban mother/pot dealer Nancy Botwin. The fourth season recently premiered to the delight of TV critics, who love the show's exposure of suburban hypocrisy. Showtime publicists wrote, with noticeable pride: "Last season, viewers saw Nancy venture from hesitant but determined toe-dipper in the unpredictable waters of drug dealing to confident, full-fledged queen-pin entrepreneur."
They're proud of the drug-dealing mom as she gains confidence in her "queen-pin" criminality?