Extras: MARIJUANA IN THE MOVIES: A HISTORY

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by Aveline MacQuoid on February 10, 2022

in Extras

Marijuana in the movies: A history

As society becomes more progressive, so does the representation of cannabis in pop culture. For many years, cannabis has been depicted as a dangerous and illegal substance that is capable of ruining lives and creating criminals. Today, cannabis is not taboo anymore. Legalization has brought many of the plant’s benefits out of the dark, and people are more interested in cannabis than ever. As the legal cannabis industry continues to grow, shops like DankStop are introducing more and more unique products, and if you’re someone who wants to experience the benefits of cannabis visit their website.  In recent years filmmakers have started exploring the numerous benefits of cannabis use and this has prompted them to present a more nuanced view on a topic that is otherwise very controversial. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at the history of cannabis in movies, from the earliest portrayal to the newer films of today.

The beginning

The very first cannabis-related film was called “Reefer Madness”. This film was sponsored by a church prohibition group and was a very short film, just over an hour to be exact. This movie was released around the late 1930’s and is the perfect display of propaganda. The movie is basically about cannabis infiltrating America. After some corrupt young men and women consume cannabis, they go on what’s described as a “fatal marathon of debauchery” which includes murder, rape, hallucinations, a breakdown that lead to ‘madness” and even suicide. Critics considered this film one of the worst ever made and this film was responsible for creating a lot of fear and misinformation in society. For a long time after the release of this film, there were no major motion pictures that portrayed cannabis use and this is because of the Motion Picture Production Code which was founded to enforce a set of standards and regulations aimed to keep morally questionable content out of cinemas in America which included homosexuality, sexually explicit content and drug use to name a few.

Marijuana in more recent movies

In the 90’s, the stigma surrounding marijuana started to fade and more cannabis-themed movies were created which produced many cult classics. The 1990’s was probably the best decade for cannabis films and many films worked to dismantle the stereotype that had been brewing for decades. Popular cannabis movies include the 1993 classic “Dazed and Confused” which has the reputation of being one of the best party films ever created that birthed the memorable line “Say, man, you got a joint?”. In 1994, Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks” was released and this film introduced the world to 2 beloved weed dealers called Jay and Silent Bob. Jay represented the stereotypical stoner While Silent Bob represented someone outcast from society but also very intelligent and capable despite being high most of the time. This alone challenges the stigma that weed destroys intelligence. Another cult classic is the 1995 film ‘Friday” starring legend Ice Cube and comedian Chris Tucker. The film follows the duo who incur a $200 debt that they must repay to their weed dealer or they risk being killed. These are just a few examples of films that have challenged the negative stigma and portrayed cannabis in a more socially acceptable and harmless light.

How legalization has changed the movie scene

Now we have legalization spreading rapidly around the world and with this comes decimalization. Now more than ever, the stigma that once surrounded cannabis is fading fast, and instead, people are learning the truth about this plant, that it is not just for recreational enjoyment but also a powerful healing plant that can be consumed for medical purposes. This new information, which is backed by research and studies, has led society to view cannabis in a whole new light and many people are consuming this substance now. Movies are portraying cannabis more liberally and creatively. Celebrities are also now endorsing cannabis which is helping massively shift the public perception because these celebrities have a mass influence on the public. It’s even gotten to a point where celebrities are now investing in the cannabis market and selling, endorsing, and creating cannabis products for financial gain.

Pop culture is a very powerful tool that has a profound influence on people’s thoughts, morals, and behavior. When cannabis was negatively portrayed in movies, fear and misinformation helped create a demonized image of the herb but now society has progressed and films that are pro-cannabis have helped this progression and destigmatization of this healing herb.

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