anti-pot commercials
anti-pot commercials

The (Funny) Evolution of Anti-Cannabis Propaganda

Reefer Madness PSAs Have Come a Long Way

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Monday Apr 2, 2018

The Evolution of Anti-Cannabis Propaganda – PSAs that will make you laugh

The (Funny) Evolution of Anti-Marijuana Propaganda from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


“Drug Education” has been going on for decades now, and with every new generation comes a new form of propaganda. Today, we’ll be talking a stroll down memory lane with the hopes of understanding “how the hell we got here” in terms of cannabis prohibition and the drug war in general.

While in today’s standards, these PSAs would be ridiculed for it’s inaccuracies and outright lies, but back then, whatever was on television was almost considered “law”.

Let’s start with a PSA from the 1950s.



The first one on the list, while focused on “drug addiction” in general, blames the evil Reefers for setting our ‘hero’ Marty down the wrong path. Reefer made him do things he wouldn’t normally do, especially since he was too intoxicated to reason. He even cut his mouth because he thought of an “innovative way” to open soda bottles.

Today, this type of PSA would be considered offensive. The ill portrayal of cannabis users would send rage throughout the masses. However, the 50s was a different time…let’s say a “simpler time”.



Fast forward 10 years into the Future and the AMA (American Medical Association) took their stab at it.  Understanding that “kids” of the 60s were more attracted to psychedelic type animations, they went about explaining about how cannabis will ruin your mind.

“After all, brains are made for thinking…not fumigating!” as the video continues to spread lie after lie. The AMA should be ashamed to have ever participated in this unscientific drivel and should be held responsible for convincing an entire generation that “Reefer is bad”.

I mean, today, if someone would make a PSA of this nature, one would seriously question their knowledge of medicine and addiction.



Now, let’s fast forward another 20 years to the 80s. You have to understand; this was right in the middle of the Drug War. These kinds of propaganda were being shoved down the throats of everyone. The approach in this video was a bit subtler.

It didn’t portray cannabis as a “deadly drug” but rather honed in on the stoner stereotype of a lazy person who sits at home and smokes weed all day. “Nothing ever happened” to me, the main character explains as they are talking about the “ills of drugs”.

The entire PSA continues until the last scene where the guy’s mother asks, “Have you even looked for a job today” insinuating that he’s been sitting on his ass all day.

The PSA ends off, “Marijuana…nothing will ever happen to you too” or something along those lines. Basically, smoke weed and you’ll be a couch sitting loser living in your mom’s house till you’re 30.

And these days, professionals who have jobs are the folks who smoke the most….so guess that theory was shot in the foot.



The following PSA comes from the 90s. Still, in the middle of the Drug War, we have another subtle approach. It starts off with a typical 90s kid skateboarding through his neighborhood. A nice, suburban environment with kids playing in the streets.

Then, the info.

40% of all youth that smoke marijuana live in the city….guess where the other 60% live. This is the message that ends the video just as the kid skates up to his friend who’s puffing on a joint. You’ve got to love the subtlety of the message.




This one is definitely one of my favorites because A, the ball sniffing pooch has some sense of morality and concern for “Lindsi” who is just trying to wash down her cotton mouth.

This one is about peer pressure. If parents can’t stop their kids from smoking weed, maybe we can cultivate a generation of people who would rat out their friends. The final message of “How would you tell a friend” emphasizes the attempt to get people to pressure their friends into “not smoking weed”.

All I can say, I have never smoked enough weed to have my pets talk to me. What weed is she smoking…can I have some?



What’s up with PSAs and talking dogs? This one from the early 2000s takes on an almost “Mr. Saladfingers” approach to teaching kids about not doing weed. The dog, looking at his owner smoking a joint essentially guilt trips the human to consider stopping to smoke weed.

The eerie music in the background creates an almost “crack den” type vibe to it with its ultra-low quality animation.

Eventually, the dog asks the human if he could quit weed now, whereas the human responds, “Next week is better”. My response to the dog would be, “I’ll stop the moment you stop licking your own asshole…”



This Jewel comes from Australia and is actually quite recent compared to the other ones on the list. Once more, outlining that “people who smoke pot are lazy”, a Sloth is representing the stoner. With the hashtag #StonerSloth being their main Call to action, they try to ridicule cannabis smokers by equating them to sloths.

Here’s the thing though, I’m quite fascinated that those Sloths are so well trained. Hell, if smoking weed can turn a Sloth into a nearly-functional human…we should all be blazing up.


Anyhow, that’s where I’ll leave it for you today. Propaganda is quite entertaining when you realize it’s propaganda.


The (Funny) Evolution of Anti-Marijuana Propaganda from CannabisNet on Vimeo.








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