As Hollywood begins to embrace cannabis culture on the small screen, makers of vape products are using product placement to target a wider audience. The Direct-to-consumer platforms like Hulu and Netflix seem like obvious choices due to their lack of FCC oversight, but premium cable and even network television channels are embracing the potential ad revenue from a ten billion-dollar industry.
Back in 2014, NBC’s Hannibal depicted Laurence Fishburne’s character Jack Crawford using an Arizer Solo with his cancer-stricken wife, highlighting both the recreational and medicinal applications of cannabis, not to mention the emotional intricacies of being a caregiver. Although the main goal of product placement is to fund a show, seeing a corporation like NBCUniversal feature medical cannabis, despite federal prohibition, was a bold statement.
Pax, the makers of the Pax and Pax 2 portable vaporizers, seems to be the most prolific in terms of product placement. Comedy Central’s Broad City shows the Pax being used by the main characters. Recently, the Pax was seen in Showtime’s new series Billions, specifically by a billionaire hedge fund manager, his wife and his colleague. These scenarios depict the use of cannabis by a variety of people, rather than the typical Hollywood portrayal of the 24/7 stoner.
Season two of True Detective featured the Volcano, a vaporizer that is massively popular among seasoned vape fans and often used in a communal setting. With a $600 price tag for their latest model, this is a niche product that fans recognized instantly.
While these scenes are quite familiar to cannabis users, they may be enlightening to viewers who have limited knowledge of marijuana culture. The idea that cannabis can be used safely on occasion is a sharp contrast to the depiction of all-consuming substance abuse so often dramatized in mainstream entertainment. With networks creating entire shows around cannabis culture as well as advertising vape products, the public debate regarding marijuana prohibition will continue to develop.