Sunday, May 20, 2018

Will Roseanne Try Medical Marijuana on Her Comeback Season Finale?

UPDATE 5/29 - The series has been cancelled by ABC after Barr sent an offensive tweet. She now says she was "Ambien tweeting" and didn't know the target of her tweet was African-American.

The FDA-approved language on bottles of Ambien says it can cause "Abnormal thinking, behavioral changes and complex behaviors: May include 'sleep-driving' and hallucinations." Too bad she didn't use Ambien like Tiger Woods did. At least she didn't crash her car on Ambien, like Patrick Kennedy did (yes, the same one who is now an anti-marijuana campaigner).

UPDATE 5/22 - The episode didn't touch medical marijuana; instead Roseanne is saved, Forrest Gump style, by a flood and federal disaster money. But TV guide predicts her pain problems will be part of the plot next season.

An AARP Magazine interview with Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, who play the TV couple Roseanne and Dan Connor again in this year's wildly watched comeback season, says that the show will have them "making sense of selfies, medical marijuana, rising health care costs and the growing divide between the superrich and the rest of us."

If the show does address cannabis this season, it must do so in its season finale, scheduled for this Tuesday at 8 PM on ABC. Last week's episode set it up perfectly, revealing that Roseanne has been stashing pain pills in secret to deal with a knee problem, for which she hopes to avoid expensive surgery.


Studies continue to pour in on almost a weekly basis showing that states with access to medical cannabis have less opiate use, abuse, and overdose than do states without access. But the US opioid commission has refused to consider cannabis, and government officials have begun pushing back, with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore F. McCance-Katz recently disputing the notion that legal marijuana access reduces opioid issues. She instead touted her agency’s success in promoting MAT (medically assisted treatment, meaning methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine).

The opioid crisis has affected the cast of Roseanne: Glenn Quinn, who portrayed daughter Becky's love interest Mark, died of an accidental heroin overdose five years after the original series ended. And now 18-year-old Emma Kenney, who plays granddaughter Harris in the reboot, has checked into a treatment program for an undisclosed form of substance abuse.

In the original series, an episode called "A Stash from the Past" has Roseanne and Dan discovering and trying an old bag of pot, then deciding they had too many family responsibilities to use it again.  Meanwhile, her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) has a revelation of her own.

If the reboot does address marijuana it's likely to be a boost to their ratings: the season premiere revealing Roseanne as a Trump supporter had a record 18 million viewers (27.3 million once all platforms were counted), but the show's ratings have slipped down to 10.3 million viewers.

Barr is a fan of medical marijuana who tried to start a cannabisbusiness in California. In her book Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farmshe explains that her sincere and failed attempt to sing the National Anthem was fueled by psychiatric drugs and a lack of "a natural substance called THC":

Shortly after the National Anthem horror, I started to feel as though I were waking up from a bad nightmare. The Prozac, Zoloft, Klonopin, and several other mood-altering drugs that had been prescribed for me by psychiatrists (whose destruction by Scientology I now welcome) for my "Multiple-Personality Bipolar Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" were no longer doing the trick of shielding me from reality. I became even more depressed than normal, like a lot of people do after they take antidepressants. 

 I had stopped smoking the Herb of the Goddess that had forever kept me balanced enough to become successful and rich, in order to support my then-husband's "sobriety," and that led to massive bipolar troubles that were all capped off with tons of psychiatrists and psychiatric drugs, none of which helped with my problems at all and, in fact, made them even worse.

Her hilarious 2006 HBO special "Blonde and Bitchin'" contained the trenchant observation, "The War on Drugs is a war on poor people using street drugs waged by rich people on prescription drugs," a line she repeated while while running for US President (and Prime Minister of Israel) in 2012. In 2015, she said marijuana and hemp are, "The hope for the future."

The fictional Connor family lives in Illinois, which now has a medical marijuana program (although a very restrictive one: patients there must pass a criminal background check just to gain access to cannabis medicines).

A Roseanne episode addressing medical cannabis would be perfect timing, since this week in Washington, DC the medical cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access is holding a conference on the theme, "End Pain, Not Lives," to highlight the potential of cannabis against the nation's opiate crisis.

It will also help put Roseanne back into the good graces of her buddy Bill Maher, who took down her misguided support of Trump. 


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