Soft-power is some pretty amazing stuff. Soft-power is when you can get people to do what you want without coercing or forcing them to do it. It is very different than law enforcement or military action and may ultimately have a more widespread and long lasting impact than physical force. Hollywood and Silicon Valley make California one of the most powerful soft-powers in the world and they have been really working on normalizing cannabis consumption ever since WEEDS debuted in August of 2005.
The most recent report from Portland Communications and their “The Soft Power 30” puts the U.S. as number three in the world. Apparently we typically sit at number one but political concerns had us drop back below France and the United Kingdom. Regardless, the influence the U.S. does have comes from our universities and from California. This influence may ultimately be the biggest force that will lead to national legalization of marijuana here in the United States, and may have been the catalyst for other countries like Uruguay and Canada deciding to move forward with ending the prohibition on cannabis.
Every year, Portland Communications and the USC Center on Public Diplomacy assess objective metrics and polling data to produce “The Soft Power 30” report, which seeks to rank the nations with the leading soft power capabilities.
When asked for further details on this data, Portland Communications’ General Manager in Asia explained that California is largely responsible for global perceptions of the U.S. on both the cultural and technological fronts.
While acknowledging that all four corners of the country make contributions to American cultural and technological exports, “the most visible, and certainly the most globally ubiquitous, are film and television, which come overwhelmingly out of Hollywood.”
In fact, California has been molding the perception of marijuana for decades. The infamous “Reefer Madness” campaign was spawned in the Golden State in the late 1930’s and was largely responsible for cannabis prohibition in the U.S. – and even worldwide. At the same time, California’s own William Randolph Hearst crafted and propelled a bitter crusade against legal weed through his vast newspaper empire.
Movies and TV are already banging the drum. Showtime’s Emmy-and-Golden-Globe-winning “Weeds” focused on a struggling, widowed mother (Mary-Louise Parker) in California who grows and sells weed, and works hard at it, to support her family and pay off the debts she inherited from her late husband. The series premiered in 2005 and quickly became a mainstream hit, running for eight seasons.
“Disjointed” turned out to be somewhat of a failure, though it had a great cast. Movies like “The Pineapple Express” or any movie with Seth Rogen have been influencing people around the world. If alcohol consumption has been normalized then why can’t cannabis consumption become normalized as well?