aNewDomain — We’ve all heard of”Reefer Madness” (1938). The sensationalistic anti-marijuana film is so exaggerated in its crazy cannabis claims it’s been the center of mockery for going on 40 years now.
But “Reefer Madness” wasn’t just an exaggerated movie designed to scare 1930s teens away from that devil weed. It also was, according to scholars, an exploitation film, created from the start to tantalize audiences with the sorts of images and content that the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 expressly forbade, including drugs, sex, wild dancing and more.
Watch “Reefer Madness” in its entirety below the fold. -Ed.
According to that code, illegal drug traffic must not be portrayed in such a way as to stimulate curiosity concerning the use of, or traffic in, such drugs; nor shall scenes be approved which show the use of illegal drugs, or their effects, in detail.
Directed by Louis J. Gasnier, the film was an immediate hit with Depression-era audiences. In addition to stoned teenagers, it depicted vehicular manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and, even, insanity, all of which it blamed on “marijuana addiction.”
“Reefer Madness” is available in the public domain. The Internet Archive makes it available at its site here. For your convenience, we’ve embedded the full film below.
For aNewDomain, I’m Gina Smith.