Reefer Madness may be a funny film to watch in this day and age. It’s so obviously over-the-top and campy, and it’s easy to laugh at. But keep in mind, originally this movie was taken seriously, and many people thought cannabis could actually do serious harm. Here are a few of the most harmful lies from Reefer Madness.
Cannabis Causes Hallucinations and Madness
The film is known for telling the story of teens who eventually descend into madness because of cannabis use. While some get anxious or paranoid from cannabis, it does not actually cause insanity, and the type of mental illness in the movie is extremely exaggerated as a cannabis side effect.
Cannabis Causes People to Rape
The film also shows a cannabis user who tries to rape someone. Sexual assault is a real problem due to internalized sexism in society, not because an herb can move normally well-behaved men to lose all control. Cannabis is not an excuse for rape.
Cannabis is Highly Addictive
To certain people, anything can be habit-forming. But cannabis is specifically known for its non-addictive nature. Also, the movie makes it seem as though one puff of cannabis will send users on a desperate journey to get more at any cost. If anything, this behavior is more true about a drug like crack.
Another old myth is that cannabis can cause death if enough is smoked or ingested. No one has ever died of a cannabis overdose. Cannabis is not for everyone, but all an overdose of cannabis will do is make you take a nap.
Only Society’s Dregs Use Cannabis
The movie also makes it seem that good, God-fearing people can only get turned on to cannabis by the underbelly of society. Of course, this comes from a history of racism, as many believed that African American and Lantinx people would corrupt white people with cannabis. Plenty of people use cannabis, not just those considered “other” by society, and our social norms caused these divides, not the other way around.