We recently discussed whether pop culture products such as the television series Breaking Bad glamorize drugs such as methamphetamine (meth). Given the myriad number of projects that have discussed drugs and drug use over the years, we’ll probably never have a definitive answer. Different projects say different things about drugs.

People have been making movies about drugs for years. One of the more notorious cases was one of the earliest. Made in the 1930s, Reefer Madness is a propaganda film that supposedly chronicles the dangers of marijuana, a drug also known as reefer.

We’re saying supposedly because Reefer Madness depicts characters who murder, attempt to rape, and hallucinate, all because they’re under the influence of marijuana. While such behavior makes for a dramatic movie, it just doesn’t seem realistic.

For one, marijuana can cause hallucinations, but users must ingest a lot of it, or a lot of it over an extended period of time, to experience that effect. Secondly, marijuana is a depressant. Using it shouldn’t cause people to want to rape or murder. If anything, it can sap people of their energy, so it seems unlikely that marijuana would cause such energetic, aggressive behavior.

As reputable medical professionals can tell you, using marijuana can cause different effects, such as changes in

  • Coordination and reaction times
  • Learning and memory
  • Balance
  • Appetite

People experiencing these symptoms and other side effects of marijuana probably have trouble thinking clearly and even standing up straight. It seems unlikely that they would be able to act aggressively or do all the things they do in Reefer Madness.

Thus, the film certainly doesn’t glamorize drugs, but its glaring, even laughable inaccuracies could make viewers question just how bad drugs such as marijuana really are. Given these inaccuracies, they might think that none of the film’s statements, or any other statements about drugs, are accurate.

We know that’s not true. Drugs and drug use have consequences. Just not the consequences we see in Reefer Madness.

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