It is not news Miley Cyrus quit smoking marijuana. It wasn’t news when it actually happened and it’s not news now. Once the enfant terrible of popular culture, she has since receded to playing the mainstream media game: smiling pretty to the camera, supporting culturally conservative values, and acting proper and polite.
I continue seeing headlines about Miley quitting voluntary lifestyles that brought her nothing but fame and success. The first is with regards to marijuana. She told Billboard last month she hasn’t smoked weed “in three weeks.” This is totally fine. No one needs to smoke cannabis or participate in any lifestyle that isn’t for them. Miley could’ve finished her point there.
A few years ago Miley told Rolling Stone marijuana is “the best drug on Earth.” Now she seems to demean anything related to cannabis every chance she can, often without anyone asking her to do so. Here’s what else she told Billboard about why quit smoking weed: “I like to surround myself with people that make me want to get better, more evolved, open. And I was noticing, it’s not the people that are stoned. I want to be super clear and sharp, because I know exactly where I want to be.”
Last week on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show she veered into hyperbole. “I had this dream that I would die during my monologue on SNL for some reason. That I would just get so stoned that I just died,” she told Fallon. “Which I googled, and that’s never happened.”
When prompted by Fallon, Miley asserted she was smoking “a lot of weed,” she said. “It’s like, No one’s ever died from weed but no one’s ever smoked as much as I did.”
Which…sure. That statement rings of exaggeration, but so does most of Miley’s speech surrounding that claim. The only reason she wore bunny rabbit costumes and nipple pasties, she told Fallon, was because she was “stoned.” Saying people that are stoned aren’t trying to “get better, more evolved, open” is an unfair blanket statement we know not to be true. Plenty of examples throughout cannabis culture tell the exact opposite. Cannabis users “make more money, spend more time outdoors, volunteer more, and more happy about life,” according to one study. Weed and fitness is a booming wellness trend in California and across the country. Marijuana can help addicts get clean and improve mental health.
The health benefits of marijuana are numerous. New cannabis consumers are trying to evolve and grow as human beings. They aren’t just sitting around stoned on the couch, pounding Doritos and binging Netflix. (Though that’s fine every once in a while, too!) Miley’s statements reek of bullshit. Once a positive symbol supported by the community, cannabis users can’t help feeling used by the pop star. Insinuating you can’t consume various forms of marijuana and still be smart and clear in your reasoning is downright insulting.
It parallels with Miley’s comments regarding hip hop as well. She came out in the same Billboard interview saying similarly disparaging mentions of rap music, labeling it too vulgar and misogynistic for Miley to participate. “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’—I am so not into that.”
While, yes, let’s move rap away from its roots of misogyny, why must Miley Cyrus belittle an entire lifestyle by repeating negative, derivative blanket statements perpetuated by ignorant outsiders? An expected backlash prompted Miley to post a half-hearted Instagram apology, stating she was “gravitating more towards uplifting, conscious rap.” (Supporting only “conscious rap” is a giant problem itself, but that would require another article. Read this DJBooth feature which captures the frustrating double standard.)
Miley boosted and supported hip hop and cannabis when it benefited her during her outspoken, rebellious youth phase. She twerked on Robin Thicke, rocked gold teeth in the “We Can’t Stop” music video, and wore dreads as host of the 2015 MTV Music Awards. Within that latter show, Nicki Minaj challenged Miley in a since-legendary clapback while accepting her Best Hip-Hop Video VMA.
“Miley, what’s good,” Minaj said. This was fallout dating back to the VMA nominations. Minaj felt snubbed her “Anaconda” video wasn’t nominated for Video of the Year, claiming black female artists like herself were often relegated to “urban” categories. In a New York Times feature, Miley criticized Nicki Minaj, saying, “If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself.”
That criticism, then and now, doesn’t seem to grasp the magnitude of such comments. Nicki Minaj came out strongly against Miley in a 2015 New York Times profile, stating:
Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.
The cycle, sadly, seems to be repeating itself. Miley labeling every cannabis user as a lazy, unintelligent stoner is dangerously misrepresentative. Treating marijuana as something you’re allowed to try in your youth then quit when it’s time to grow up is a treacherous belief too often believed and repeated. It denies all the positive and health impacts cannabis has made in so many lives. Don’t use it as an excuse for why you wanted to twerk and dress in unicorn costumes, Miley.
This demonization of rap and weed come exactly when it’s most beneficial for Miley Cyrus to do so. Then was her rebel phase and now Miley has “cleaned up her act” for the public eye—and her new album. We all go through phases, experimenting with lifestyle, but just because something doesn’t fit you, does not give you the right to cast shame and judgment on everyone else. Sadly, Miley still hasn’t grasped that lesson. Guess she has more growing up to do after all.