Reefer and Reefer Madness – Repercussions Still Felt Today?


What happened to reefer? 

While humans have enjoyed cannabis for generations and even centuries in certain civilizations, it hasn’t had the best reputation here in North America. A lot of the stigma attached to the marijuana cigarette has a lot to do with a particular film that came out in 1936: Reefer Madness

This old movie is notoriously known for its anti-cannabis themes and is thought to have sparked the initial opposition towards cannabis we so commonly see in many older generations.

Despite the scientific breakthroughs in medicine regarding cannabis and its beneficial components, the stigma and attitudes towards cannabis still prevail in certain areas around the world. 

To find out how Reefer Madness was used to influence the population on their beliefs on cannabis, keep on reading!

The History of Cannabis in North America

Reefer, or weed as we now know it, is a slang term for the cannabis plant. 

In the early 1900s, America was at war with Mexico over the Mexican Border War, which ultimately gave America the rights to California and Texas and, as a result, set the border between America and Mexico. 

During this time shortly after the war in El Paso, Texas, Americans were trying to keep tabs on Mexican immigrant populations trying to enter America. 

Somewhere along these lines, in an attempt to control the Mexican immigrant population, the American government demonetized cannabis by criminalizing its possession and demonizing its use.

In an attempt to sway the general population away from cannabis use to create opposition against Mexican immigrants who would regularly bring cannabis through the borders, many forms of propaganda flooded mainstream American media. 

One of the most prominent propaganda pieces that was thought to have sparked many of the old school stigmatic attitudes towards cannabis was a movie that came out in 1936, Reefer Madness.

The Story of Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness

From the marijuana cigarette causing insanity, also known as “reefer madness,” all the way to weed being the catalyst of several murders, Reefer Madness does not fall short in the department of pure absurdity. 

From our perspectives, it can be hard to believe that people had actually been brainwashed by this type of content and fell for it. 

The movie itself is a highly fictionalized cautionary tale about marijuana, drawing influences from fantasyland and many other harder and dangerous drugs and pegging them on reefer (yes, we don’t get it either).

The film portrays a few young high schoolers who get involved with a cannabis supplier, eventually leading them to try a marijuana cigarette for themselves and frequenting a “reefer” house. 

The initial marijuana cigarette leads to the high schoolers performing crazy fictionalized acts such as a car accident, the accidental murder of one of the high schoolers, and a few other unrealistic complications that were blamed on cannabis.

In one of these instances, cannabis had driven one of the high schoolers to frame a murder on one of the others, eventually leading the innocent boy to trial and then a mental hospital. 

In what we describe as one of the most tone-deaf and ill-conceived movies of the century, Reefer Madness pulls the supposed effects of cannabis out of the magical world of fantasyland. It exaggerates them to astronomical heights to incite fear and opposition in its audience. 

If you consider yourself well-versed in cannabis and enjoy a good laugh or two, we recommend seeing this movie for yourself to witness how skewed and warped the image of reefer was in the early 1900s.

The Aftereffects on the Cannabis Industry


These days, we rely on science to do the talking when it comes to the medicinal utility of cannabis. 

However, antiquated and false beliefs still cling onto the minds of some in the older generations. There are still many things that are heavily stigmatized when it comes to reefer. 

Whether people believe that reefer should be illegal to the notion that reefer should be excluded from medicine based on false beliefs, some people just want an excuse to look the other way.

In many ways, Reefer Madness planted a seed in the minds of many in the previous generations that eventually trickled down and persist today. To give you a good idea of how Reefer Madness has influenced the world and its view on cannabis, look no further than a generation or two behind you.


Despite the use of logic and scientific empirical evidence of reefer’s benefits, some still insist that reefer is the devil’s creation and will melt your mind. There’s absolutely no reasoning for their hatred of the herb, and it can’t be backed with any solid evidence except what they’ve been brainwashed with.

This ultimately creates problems for those of us who enjoy cannabis responsibly or rely on it as a treatment for their medical issues

These old attitudes towards weed have even caused some people to completely shun the use of any cannabis-related medicines and treatments even though they have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective. 

What’s worse is that sometimes those who must take these cannabis-derived treatments may even be looked down upon by some for using them, which is another completely unnecessary social pressure that many people are forced to deal with.

The Twisted History of Reefer

The cannabis industry is slowly shedding its skin and renewing itself after the Reefer Madness movie as something beneficial in the world of medicine. 

While cannabis isn’t without its side effects and flaws, it does have its benefits and uses and is ultimately nowhere near the image that the previous generations have set up for. 

It will take some time before these old false beliefs are fully dropped, so we encourage you to help spread the truth about cannabis to speed up the process. And we will be sure to keep you up to date on all things cannabis through our blog!

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