A Netflix documentary into the life of former New England Patriots receiver Aaron Hernandez is earning poor reviews for its portrayal of him and of pot.
The docuseries, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, recounts the series of events that led to the murder of Odin Lloyd — a crime for which Hernandez, a friend of the victim, would later be convicted of before eventually taking his own life in jail in 2017. According to Vice, the documentary gives pot a bad rap.
In its exploration of the factors contributing to Hernandez’s descent, Vice noted the series focuses in on the former tight end’s drug use, describing him as a weed “enthusiast” who was “living on the edge.”
“One of the more jarring images is of him dancing at the gas station and he seems to be impaired,” said Dan Wetzel, a Yahoo! Sports columnist, while narrating the second episode of the series. “Obviously there’s a lot of testimony of him smoking almost nonstop that weekend. But here’s a guy who just minutes later will pick up a friend of his and then drive him directly to a spot where he murders him.”
While the series does not explicitly blame marijuana for Hernandez’s actions, Vice noted the implication is clear and no efforts are made to explain the relatively benign nature of the drug.
Rebecca Haines-Saah, public health expert and University of Calgary professor, said the docuseries subtly and blatantly plays up Hernandez’s drug use and sexuality “in a way that was sort of just painting this moral picture, and this picture that paints him as more of a deviant than a person with legitimate problems based on trauma.”
Hernandez was found to be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurogenerative disease caused by repeated blows to the head that has befallen many former NFL players. “I have no doubt that people might use cannabis to medicate trauma and the effects of a brain injury,” Haines-Saah said, adding this does not mean consumption leads to the crimes Hernandez committed.
In fact, it was more likely than not that Hernandez was using the drug to help with his condition, said Michael Verbora, a doctor for Aleafia Total Health Network, who cautioned against the dangers of playing up the role of cannabis in these sorts of crimes.
“At the the end of the day sensationalized stories are great for (Netflix’s) business,” Dr. Verbora said. “The problem with it is a story is just an anecdote in science. The average person is just going to see this and immediately think that this is a widespread issue and not understand that it’s probably less than a fraction of a per cent of a chance of this happening,” he added.
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Written by David Yasvinski