There’s something almost nostalgic about a bygone era when cannabis was seen as an evil, illegal poison that was sure to ruin your life. I said almost.
While a number of anti-cannabis ads, from the 1950s all the way through the 2000s, are based on creative concepts and contain moments so ridiculous they’ll make you laugh out loud (with or without the aid of pot), some moments are just plain cringeworthy.
The ads themselves are almost like a time capsule — documented evidence that cannabis may be the most historically exaggerated substance when it comes to its dangers (or even some of its effects).
You’ll see many recurring themes. Many of the ads claim that cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs, that it destroys your brain, that it makes you a “loser” and that this little green plant will essentially ruin your life.
One of them seems to claim it will make your dog talk, which frankly I wish was actually true.
My advice? Spark a joint, sit back, have a laugh and feel grateful that we live in a time where legalization is becoming the norm.
This 1950s gem hearkens back to the infamous Reefer Madness. It paints a clear line between cannabis use and a full-blown heroin addiction. It also claims you can apparently eat glass and not notice while high. Right.
This PSA from the 1960s is full of wonderful ‘60s-style pop art and iconography. It also kicks off with a bunch of “myths” about cannabis which come off much more like an endorsement.
It also mentions that a part of growing up is “smoking corn stalk behind the back fence.” Ah yes, the simpler time of smoking corn stalks.
Why did it have to be snakes?
This ad has everything.
Cool late ’80s aesthetic? Check. Rap lyrics? Check. Super cool guy selling you drugs? Check. Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style transformation into an actual snake demon monster man? Obviously.
The pot doctor
This is one cooooool doctor, man.
“Oh man, I smoked so much weed that I completely forgot how to do karate!”
This ad also claims that smoking cannabis will mess you up for an entire month. Because clearly nobody who worked on this ad has ever used cannabis.
This ad plays up your dog talking to you as if that were a bad thing. I would trade my right leg to be able to talk to animals and you’re telling me that all I have to do is get high? Square deal, man. I’m in.
Also, like I care if my dog is disappointed in me. Whatever. I’ve seen my dog eat trash.
This nightmare fuel claims that cannabis makes you boring and that your friends won’t want to hang out with you. That’s true, because nobody ever had any fun smoking weed with friends.
What the actual eff is happening in this PSA? It features a pre-Beverly Hills 90210 Kathleen Robertson and also the most terrifying use ever of green-screen on a human being.
This PSA asks the important question, “Does smoking marijuana make you someone special?” And that question is asked by a character that was 100 per cent thought up on an acid trip.
You will not be able to stop screaming. Enjoy.
We Like to Party
This one might take the cake as the most hilariously irresponsible anti-cannabis ad of all time. Most disturbing is that it came about in the early 2000s, when it really seems like we all should have known better.
I don’t want to spoil how it ends, because I promise you will not see it coming. It’s that irresponsible.
And if you get the end and think, “Wait did they just do THAT?” the answer is, “Yes, yes they did.”