Reefer Madness- Revisited

Liz Filmer
08 Oct 2021

I LOVE looking at pictures like these. It is just insane the lengths people were going to and the claims they were making about the effects of cannabis, or should I say, "reefer madness". Anti-marijuana propaganda was rife between the 1930s- 1970s.

There were dozens of cheap "pulp fiction" books written about marijuana in the 1940s. They are all very seductive and designed to draw the reader in with the cover alone. Then once they had your attention, they would slap you with dramatic tales of weed-induced insanity!! 

 As well as being ridiculous in their anti-weed messages, these posters and book covers were also SO un-politically correct in terms of women's rights, equality etc. Can you imagine if anyone tried to pull that shit these days? There would be utter outrage! 

The debut of the film "Reefer Madness" in 1936 was the first in a series of anti-marijuana propaganda films released and fuelled hysteria about the drug. Originally titled "Tell Your Children," the film centres on some innocent high school students who are lured into trying marijuana.

 Things get really out of hand, and the storyline bounces from a hit-and-run accident to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations and a rapid descent into madness! The film was considered a flop until it was rediscovered in the 1970s by hippies, becoming pop[ular in the most ironic ways.

However, the corruption of "innocent" girls and kids is a constant theme in these pulp books and movie posters. 
The early 1970s book "The Devils Weed" warned everyone to look out for "friendly strangers", handing out innocent-looking joints that could make you crazy, go on a murder spree and then commit suicide. Be careful, though, because if that's not enough, these shady characters might spike your coffee or cigarettes without you knowing simply to get you hooked. 

Linking marijuana directly to Satan himself is another running theme in anti-marijuana propaganda. From the 1942 film The Devils' Harvest, this poster promises tales of "degradation, vice, insanity and debauchery." 

The poster for "WEED with ROOTS in HELL", really tries to shock. There is talk of "Weird orgies, Wild parties and Unleashed passions". It sounds like what would be a regular Saturday night for most people these days. It also features an entirely unrelated scene of people shooting up heroin, just for the hell of it.)  "Assassin of Youth" (take two) This poster promises an "a puff, apart and a tragedy," but the scantily clad busty redhead likely enticed teenage boys more with the promise of a glimpse at some boobs!

"Assassin of Youth" (take three) Though not apparent to most, this poster makes a direct connection between marijuana and the occult. Specifically the worship of Moloch, a god who was worshipped by ancient people and commonly associated with child sacrifice. 

Devils Harvest
Assassin of youth
Assassin of youth 3
Liz Filmer