In the gameplay trailer yesterday for Grand Theft Auto V, one of the three protagonists, Franklin, leaves a Medical Marajuana dispensary. As he’s leaving, he smells a vial in his hand and says “Damn!” Which raises the question: Can you smoke pot in Grand Theft Auto V?
Yes, you were able to buy drugs in China Town Wars. Yes, CJ accidentally got contact high in San Andreas. And yes, Niko Bellic was no stranger to getting staggeringly, incapacitatingly drunk. But for the most part, the protagonists of Grand Theft Auto said no to drugs, which is very funny considering that drugs and drug users are everywhere in Grand Theft Auto series.
“So what,” you might ask, “Why would this be important?” Well, for a lot of reasons.
For one, drinking was one of my favorite parts about Grand Theft Auto IV (and Red Dead Redemption). Watching Niko struggle to stand up like an intoxicated toddler added a weird, QWOP-like sense of hilarity and acted as a subtle reminder of just how stupid and self-destructive a person can get when they let themselves drink to excess — particularly when they try to drive. The challenge of Franklin attempting to navigate the world stoned, and subsequently driving his car 5 miles an hour, could fill a similar gameplay niché.
Another reason? People typically aren’t that violent when they smoke pot. That could be really funny in a game that is, on paper, about committing violent crimes. Imagine Franklin leaves the dispensary, smokes some pot, and then completely forgets about the heist he’s supposed to commit in a hour because he really, really wants to go home, eat a pizza bagel and play, well, Grand Theft Auto.
The really important part, however, is that GTA V is ultimately game about Los Angeles, and it simply isn’t Los Angeles without medical marijuana dispensaries. Social taboos have changed and cannabis culture is just a part of normal California culture now, in a way that it wasn’t when Grand Theft Auto started off in 1997. Without pot, L.A. simply isn’t L.A.
So yes, this is speculative, and based on a single shot in a trailer. But if it turns out to be the case, it'll make the southern California experience that much more rooted in reality.
We have reached out to Rockstar and will update if we receive any new information.