Legal pot takes another step toward mainstream in Stephen Colbert pistachio ad

Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington and Colorado. The latest polls show most Americans now favor decriminalizing the drug. How long before pot takes over the mainstream?

America got its first taste of marijuana in 1936 with the short film "Reefer Madness." Since then, stoners and pot smokers have been ridiculed and made fun of with Cheech and Chong and "Dazed and Confused."

Some stoners even made it into commercials, albeit very carefully.

There has never really been overt pot smoking in commercials, but the latest Steven Colbert spot for Pistachios hints that won't be far behind.

The commercial shows a bald eagle clearly smoking marijuana and then falling down. This is the closest advertisers have come in America to using pot as a vehicle to sell a product.

Christopher Chavez is a advertising and media studies professor in the University of Oregon's Journalism School. "This is going to be one of those points where, let's see how far we can push it, and if there's no sort of backlash, both from consumers or from the public but also regulatory organizations, I suspect that you'll see people aggressively pursuing this tactic," he said.

Chavez believes you will see other smaller companies or products using marijuana to sell their products. "I wouldn't see Target doing it," he said. "You could probably see Mountain Dew doing it, any of those products that are targeting younger males specifically."

He said it's not unlike what alcohol went through breaking into mainstream advertising coming out of prohibition.

Chavez expects you will see these commercials on cable and eventually on the networks, but probably not until more states legalize marijuana, or federal rules about the drug change.

"I think right now we're giggling at it because it's so out of the ordinary," he said. "But as marijuana usage becomes more legal and becomes nationally accepted and more mundane I think you'll start to see a normalizing process about how we see it represented on television."


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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