Cannabis, which for so many years has had the public popularity of genital warts, seems to be getting an image revamp. Gone are the days where cannabis was perceived as ‘the devil’s harvest’, inspiring ‘weird orgies, wild parties, unleashed passions’ (I’m pretty sure whoever wrote that had never been to an oxymoronic ‘cannabis party’ – ‘no sex, just Play Station and Kitkats’ would seem more realistic). I haven’t heard cannabis referred to as a ‘gateway drug’ for months, and even the hysterical psychosis argument seems to have calmed itself down a bit these days.
Despite this, I was still taken aback when faced with the bare fact that Coronation Street are running a plot-line where a pensioner smokes cannabis to help her symptoms of arthritis. I feel a bit protective of my grandma – pensioners smoking drugs, it will blow her mind! Although to be fair, she’ll probably just say “I’m not watching that, it’s gone silly again” and boycott it for a week. She’s 96 – the woman knows what she likes and doesn’t tolerate what she doesn’t. And maybe I should give my nan some credit – having lived for almost a hundred years, there isn’t much that shocks her these days.
It did make me think though – this plot line is being delivered to about as mainstream an audience as I can imagine. I don’t watch soaps (what with having a life and all) and so am probably not in the best place to judge. But my perceptions of people who watch Corrie are generally the older person who harks back to a time when people could afford to socialise at the local pub.
My grandma, for example, whose staple weekly viewing is Corrie, Emmerdale (when it’s not being silly), Strictly Come Dancing, and Songs of Praise. I would consider those prime-time banalities to be aimed at a pretty conservative audience (with a tolerance for covert social control). And yet it appears that, on Corrie, the illicit drug cannabis is being portrayed in a positive light. Is this not a clash of cultures?
I question myself for being so shocked by this. The world is a different place now, people are more tolerant. In Hyde Park this weekend, a pro-cannabis protest, where large numbers of cannabis users met to smoke in public, resulted in just two arrests, and bystanders commented that the small number of Police in attendance turned a blind eye to the majority of the drug use. Possibly more profoundly, even The Mail Online seemed to take a balanced perspective on the story, sub-heading their article ‘Protesters argue alcohol and tobacco cause far more damage to society than cannabis’ instead of the more predictable ‘Marajuana turns woman into reptile’ or ‘Potheads eat baby after emptying vending machine in drugged-up munch rage’.
Even in certain states of America (not a country I strongly associate with tolerance or liberal thinking), cannabis has been either decriminalised or legalised. Which makes me question myself and wonder if it’s just me that’s out of touch with the world’s changes. Maybe I’m the throw-back to a time when I considered myself, with my drugland associations, to be on the fringes, and now, without realising it, I’m actually completely mainstream.
I’m going to try not to slip into an existentialist crisis just yet though. I’m saving that for when Nan tells me to roll her a fat one.