While it’s hard to precisely date things unless you’re a historian, you can generally figure out if something is old or not based on a number of factors: aesthetics, language, technology, etc. In this case, it’s mindset and worldview. While the period between 1930 and 1950 isn’t too long ago in the grand scheme—there are many people alive who remember those times—the ideologies of recent history seem like they’re a thousand years behind common opinion today. This is especially true of marijuana. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you can probably buy cannabis in some capacity where you live. However, less than a hundred years ago people were viciously trying to attack, discredit and demonize the simple joint you can pick up from your local dispensary. I don’t have to explain how this is backwards. In fact, it’s so far fetched to us now that seeing near ancient anti-weed propaganda borders on hilarious today. Their use faded as time progressed, but for about twenty years, thousands of alarmist posters popped up around the country warning people of the dangers and perils that come with smoking the devil’s lettuce. To give you a nice chuckle on your smoke break, here are the top five anti-weed alarmist posters to remind you just how lucky we have it nowadays. Plus, to quote Reefer Madness, you need to see them because without their significant warnings, “It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightening toll of the drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers.”
Assassin of the Youth
And the Oscar for Melodrama (or whatever award they give posters) goes to this one which claims weed, that murderous plant, is the “assassin of the youth”. While the colour scheme in the background is nice, I still can’t figure out the connection between the word ‘assassin’ and the—umm—particularly drawn woman here.
As expected, most of these posters come with the puritanical side item of “no sex”. According to this poster, weed is harvested by the devil himself and smoking it makes you dance with him or become him I guess depending on which character you identify with here. My favourite part about this is the word ‘debauchery’, just because it’s a fun word to say.
Okay, first, because of the phrase ‘burning question’, this looks like a poster warning about venereal disease, an actual worthy reason to raise public awareness. But no, apparently the marijuana cigarettes hanging from the young couples are what they should be questioning. I love how most of these would make you want to smoke weed. “Dope-created ecstasy avalanching into frightful perversions” sounds kinda fun, even though the sentence is overwritten.
I know that spelling changes over time but it’s really weird seeing it spelled ‘marihuana’ over all these posters. There’s a lot going on here—‘weird orgies’, as opposed to what? Milquetoast orgies?; the needle and image implying that people inject pot into their arms; bubbly font—but my favourite is the concern for smoke that “gets in the youth’s eyes”. I don’t know about you but eye inhales are how I got high for the first time.
Again we have a seductively drawn woman and the mention of orgies. I’ve never seen the word ‘orgy’ in print this much. Man, people were REALLY concerned with others having sex not too long ago, maybe even more so than the weed. Or maybe it’s because the weed causes the sex? It seems they thought they could eliminate the sex problem at its smokeable root (which stretches down to HELL!!).