Reefer Madness (originally made as Tell Your Children and sometimes titled as The Burning Question, Dope Addict, Doped Youth, and Love Madness) is a 1936–1939 American propaganda film revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations, and descent into madness due to marijuana addiction. The film was directed by Louis Gasnier and featured a cast of mainly little known actors.
Originally financed by a church group under the title Tell Your Children, the film was intended to be shown to parents as a morality tale attempting to teach them about the dangers of cannabis use. However, soon after the film was shot, it was purchased by producer Dwain Esper, who re-cut the film for distribution on the exploitation film circuit beginning in 1938–1939 through the 1940s and 1950s.
The film was “rediscovered” in the early 1970s and gained new life as an unintentional satire among advocates of cannabis policy reform. Critics, however, have panned it as one of the worst films ever made. Today, it is in the public domain in the United States.
By Louis J. Gasnier (YouTube) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons