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THE PORTRAYAL OF MARIJUANA THROUGHOUT FILM HISTORY Since the beginning of movie making filmmakers have tried to mirror society The counterculture has always been a favorite issue including marijuana use As early as the 1920s marijuana has made many cameo appearances in films as well as a few starring roles From its early days of scare tactics in the now famous cult favorite Reefer Madness to the late 70s marijuana heroes Cheech and Chong in Up in Smoke grass has come full circle Although it is said that millions light up everyday Hollywood has a hard time dealing with the use of marijuana on the silver screen Nowadays the majority of films that feature marijuana are somewhat neutral in their portrayal of this illicit activity But there have been quite a few that have marijuana in the forefront as the star The earliest films featuring marijuana use were created to scare the audience by showing exaggerated effects of smoking it and usually introduced a character whose life falls apart after they become addicted to it A prime example of this type of film is Reefer Madness released in 1936 This film started out with a warning to the audience of a new drug menace which threatened the American way of life It warned the American public to take action before the good ol USA succumbs to the Demon Weed To illustrate their point the main character Jimmy Harper and his girlfriend Mary Jane are introduced as a lovable pair of wholesome teens sipping their cocoa and studying Shakespeare for their English class This view of the main characters gives the audience a safe feeling and sets them up for the shock when Jimmy falls into the clutches of marijuana addiction The audience is then taken to the evil Reefer Den where they meet Mae the hostess and her abusive drug pus her boyfriend Jack Jack is the person who introduces our hero Jimmy
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