Scary Cannabis Propaganda

Scary Cannabis Propaganda
The piece discusses a collection of anti-marijuana advertisements that have been deemed as misleading or exaggerated. These include the "Marijuana Zombie Girl" billboard campaign in Portland, Oregon, which was eventually taken down due to its lack of transparency and misleading content. Another example is the "Attack of the Flat People" public service announcement that inaccurately suggests marijuana use will turn individuals into flat, lethargic beings. The article also mentions an ad produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which humorously implies that cannabis use will lead to bizarre behavior like making a hat out of ground beef. Lastly, it references the "Stoner Sloth" campaign by the Australian government, which features a human-sized sloth to symbolize the supposed negative effects of marijuana use.
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Just in time for Halloween, CannaMD has rounded up some of the scariest anti-marijuana ads ever. So grab a flashlight, curl up under the covers, and get ready to be afraid: Because while their claims may be fake, these advertisements are 100% real!

Marijuana Zombie Girl

In 2012, eight Clear Channel billboards appeared around Portland, Oregon, depicting a girl described by concerned residents as a “zombie.” The accompanying message warned viewers to stay away from marijuana (a threat many linked to Ballot 80, a local marijuana initiative hotly debated at the time).

Protect Our Society Marijuana Billboard

Fortunately, the billboards only lasted two weeks. After a number of complaints and a quick investigation, Clear Channel determined it was unclear who posted the ads and removed the signs, stating:

The ads protesting marijuana are being removed because our policy is transparency of advertising campaigns and the advertisers who are sponsoring them. These ads include a misleading website that we believe needed to honestly represent the advertiser so the ads are being removed.

While the advertised website (“Protect Our Society”) didn’t produce any leads, a contact number provided to Clear Channel led to a Florida-based group called “Save Our Society from Drugs.” Interestingly, the organization denied involvement.

While the culprits might be too afraid to claim responsibility, CannaMD isn’t scared to tackle their question head-on: Wondering what’s good about marijuana? Find plenty of answers in one of our favorite posts: Top Cannabis Studies to Share with Skeptics!

Attack of the Flat People

In a surprisingly science-free public service piece, “Above the Influence” warns viewers that using marijuana will literally turn them into flat people.

While journalists have since wondered if the creators had perhaps “confused marijuana with low-tar heroin,” the image itself is lasting (if not disturbingly inaccurate).

Countless patient success stories have dispelled the myth that cannabis robs users of energy; in fact, recent research suggests marijuana users may actually have more energy, with a 2017 study reporting that daily users have 20% more sex than those who have never used cannabis!

Beware of Ground Beef Hats

We’re not sure what’s more frightening about this ad: The fact that it was produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and contains the suggestion that using cannabis will inspire you to make a hat out of ground beef or the idea that the tagline is: “Facts: The Anti-Drug.”

Ground Beef Marijuana Ad

If the subject is “facts,” perhaps next time advertisers should start with the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics study that found marijuana cannabinoids induce programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy.

(Instead of the not-so-plausible notion that cannabis causes individuals to “e-mail Uranus.”)

Nightmare on Brain Fog Street

Like many horror films, this next video starts out pleasant enough with visions of “ice cream cones and chocolate sodas.” However, things quickly take a turn for the spooky.

Before we know it, we’re transported to a “living nightmare” where our protagonist, Marty, worries that heroin will make him “sick like the reefers did.” The narrator reinforces the idea that Marty’s path towards destruction “started with marijuana cigarettes” – a scary journey that culminates with blood running down poor Marty’s face from a “reefer” induced injury that his “befogged” brain didn’t even register.

Fortunately, modern science serves as a powerful myth-buster: Multiple studies have illustrated marijuana’s positive effect on cognitive function, including a 2017 study that suggests cannabis may even reverse the brain’s aging process.

Stoner Sloth

This advertisement is definitely the creepiest on our list, featuring a human-sized sloth dressed as a school girl (complete with a skirt and bows).

This 2015 campaign produced by the Australian government warns viewers that “you’re worse on weed” – a sentiment surely not shared by the countless ALS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and PTSD patients CannaMD physicians help every day.

Updated: March 21, 2024

Article Written By:

Jessica Walters

Jessica Walters serves as CannaMD's Chief Medical Researcher. Prior to her time at CannaMD, Jessica earned her degree from Harvard where she focused on neuropsychology. Her personal research interests include psychosocial interventions for obesity, depression, and generalized anxiety disorders.


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