Cannabis wasn’t always prohibited. Anglo-Americans and Europeans have known about marijuana’s medicinal benefits since at least the 1830s. Americans and Europeans could buy cannabis extracts to help with stomach aches, migraines, inflammation, insomnia, and other ailments.
Even though there was no evidence to support claims that marijuana had any bad effects, 29 states outlawed marijuana between 1916 and 1931. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 essentially banned it nation-wide despite objections from the American Medical Association related to medical usage. This act came just a year after the film Reefer Madness warned parents that drug dealers would invite their teenagers to jazz parties and get them hooked on “reefer.”
In 1936, the film Reefer Madness released. Originally conceived as a morality tale to warn parents against the dangers of cannabis, it was recut into an exploitation film, a lurid melodrama about a group of dope-smoking teens who descend into a hell of murder, suicide and madness brought on by the infernal herb.
Though Reefer Madness was the most famous anti-weed screed, it was soon followed by many imitators, including Assassin of Youth, where all-night marijuana parties lead to violence, and Marihuana, where an innocent girl winds up impregnated, addicted to heroin and planning a kidnapping, all because of a single puff. A large amount of anti-marijuana posters started to spread like the one we show above.
The Truth Behind the “Marijuana Kills Brain Cells” Study
The idea that weed kills brain cells originated in the 1970s and 1980s. The pseudoscience making the rounds at that time, however, traced a lot of their origins from the fake research conclusions during the “Reefer Madness” era.
Since that time, anti-marijuana activists kept repeating the idea that weed irreparably harms the human brain. And “Marijuana Kills Brain Cells” was what most believed to be true.
Unfortunately, this study relied on a faulty basis. Many of them forced monkeys to smoke excessive amounts of pot through a gas mask. In fact, researchers administered 63 joints of cannabis in five minutes with no air in between. It is not new news that asphyxiation kills brain cells, however the study was utilized to strengthen the argument against marijuana use.
Dr. Heath from Tulane University was the individual to lead the study on Rhesus monkeys. After the initial research they reported only administering 30 joints a day for 30 days before the monkeys began to die off 90 days later.
But no details were included about the inhumane treatment which later revealed asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Since a gas mask was used to administer the smoke, the smoke became very concentrated without means to escape. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that kills brain cells, and is given off by any burning object.
Since the details of the experiment was released in 1980 it has been an uphill battle to re-educate the public about the true effects and uses of cannabis. There have been plenty of studies since the False Monkey Study revealing effective uses of cannabis to combat cancer cell growth and Alzheimer’s disease, unfortunately studies like the False Monkey Study have been the basis for cannabis education in most of America.
The mass public has been negatively influenced about cannabis for the past decade resulting in cognitive dissonance when new studies expose something different (Cognitive Dissonance–mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time).