From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Reefer Madness, originally named Tell Your Children, is a 1936 cult film.
It was directed by Louis Gasnier, who had well learned the silent era craft of over-acting. Its cast was composed of mostly unknown bit actors. The story was written by Laurence Meade. The plot revolves around the tragic events that follow when high school students are lured by pushers to try "marihuana": a killing, a suicide, a descent into madness all ensue.
As a propaganda film financed by moralists, it was a terrible failure. Soon after, cinematic exploiter Dwain Esper bought the rights and cut in the "dirty bits" and began to make money on the rural circuit. Eventually it was shelved and the copyright was not renewed.
It was eventually acquired by Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), who made it the darling of pot smokers and college campuses. For this crowd the poor production qualities of the movie, including the over-acting, have stamped it as an uproarious comedy that magnifies the futility of the current "War on Drugs".