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Legalizing Weed: 4 Films That Swayed Public Opinion Against Hemp

By    |   Monday, 14 Dec 2015 06:31 PM

While the tide of public opinion has been slowly turning in favor of legalizing weed over the past five to 10 years, that hasn’t always been the case.

In fact, beginning in the 1930s, hemp was strongly stigmatized in the U.S., largely because of its association with the growing Mexican immigrant population. As federal and state laws against the drug became enacted, several films were also released that helped bolster the anti-marijuana movement.

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1. "Reefer Madness" (1936)
The quintessential “pot propaganda” movie, this film depicts a group of innocent youth led astray by drug dealers who introduce them to marijuana cigarettes. After just one puff, the teens become addicted and led to a life of debauchery (and jazz music). The film worried parents and had a profound impact on federal and state prohibition against legalizing weed.

2. "Marihuana" (1936)
In the same vein as "Reefer Madness," "Marihuana" uses scare tactics to sway public opinion against the drug. The film follows a teenage girl who, after smoking marijuana, gets pregnant, while her friend who also chose to partake drowns in the ocean. The girl and her boyfriend turn to drug dealing to support the child they are expecting, leading to his murder and her devotion to a life of crime.

3. "Assassin of Youth" (1937)
Another movie in the wave of late 1930s propaganda against hemp, this film is basically a soap opera infused with the values of the war on drugs. Yet another teenage girl is led to ruin by using marijuana, this time after meeting some unsavory characters at a soda fountain. "Assassin of Youth" also features a reporter who goes uncover working as an ice cream scooper to expose the youth drug ring.

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4. "Devil’s Harvest" (1942)
The most melodramatic of the bunch, this film suggests that marijuana is created and promoted by Satan himself, who is lurking in the background of the movie exhorting teenagers to try a joint. "Devil’s Harvest" is not shy about its attempts to influence parents, with the tagline, “A vicious racket with it’s [sic] arms around your children.”

As dated as these films seem today, they are not only reflective of the era’s attitude about legalizing weed, but had a marked impact on shaping these attitudes — most of which persevered through the rest of the century.

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While the tide of public opinion has been slowly turning in favor of legalizing weed over the past five to 10 years, that hasn't always been the case.
legalizing, weed, films, against, hemp
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2015-31-14
Monday, 14 Dec 2015 06:31 PM
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