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opinion, however, it was the association of marijuana with blacks and Mexicans that ultimately stigmatised the drug as a violent and addictive drug for the following thirty years. As Himmelstein concludes, Because Mexican laborers and other lower class groups were identified as typical marihuana users, the drug was believed to cause the kind of anti-social behaviour associated with these groups, especially violent crime.5 It is in this period that we see the emergence of films such as Reefer Madness, which first use the dreaded term, killer-weed.

Reefer Madness (18) is an important film because it shows the blatant misrepresentation of the effects of marijuana. The story opens with an official speaking to a hall filled with concerned parents and teachers. The speaker warns of the dramatic rise, to almost epic proportions, of the deadly addictive weed, marijuana. The speaker claims that this new plague cannot be underestimated, and the effects of the killer-weed may even be more deadly than that of heroine and cocaine. This deadly narcotic is The Real Public Enemy Number One! The film portrays evil pushers who pray on unsuspecting teenagers by addicting them to marijuana. The effects are shown to be crazed dancing, violent sexual tendencies, hazardous driving, and ultimately homicidal tendencies. In the final scene, the protagonist is sentenced to death after murdering two others.

It is interesting to note that there seems to be no evidence of an increased use of marijuana by white middle-class teenagers until the mid-160s. The film warns that this happened to a community just like yours, when it certainly did not. It is my opinion that the film was made primarily to solidify the myth that marijuana was an addictive and violent drug, not to address real social problems.

Filmmakers until the late 150s were strictly bound to certain restrictions laid out in the Motion Picture Production Code. If a film did not receive approval by this group of censors, it would generally not be distributed as a general release. Seeing as any reference to narcotics, positive, or negative, was strictly forbidden, films such as Reefer Madness (18) were not readily available to the general public. It was not until 148, when H.J. Ainslinger himself was involved in an anti-narcotics film, To the Ends of the Earth, that the PCA gave its Certificate of Approval. In later years, the PCA amended its code to allow for films dealing with the use and sale of narcotics as long as these films portrayed this use in a negative light.

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The film High School Confidential (158) is an interesting example of the changing signification of the dangers of marijuana consumption. The increased use of marijuana by beatniks and other fringe countertcultural groups forced filmmakers to portray the effects of the drug slightly more realistically. In this film, the protagonist, and undercover narcotics officer infiltrates an upper-class secondary school in order to break an evil drug ring. While marijuana is still portrayed as being highly addictive, it is shown more as a stepping stone to the harder drug, heroin. The protagonist says to one poor weed addict, Do I have to spell it out for you? If you flake with the weed, youll end up using the hard stuff. Perhaps it is in this period that distinctions between hard and soft drugs start to be made, and I feel that this is directly related to the fact that more and more university students began experimenting with marijuana.

Films such as I Love You Alice B. Toklas! (168) and Easy Rider (16) can be used to demonstrate the changing attitude towards drug culture during the 160s and 170s. Marijuana was commuted, as were the laws surrounding its possession, from killer weed to drop-out weed. As it became popular with middle-class white university students, its stigma was diminished greatly; so much so that it was decriminalised in eleven U.S. states. It is during this period that marijuana is portrayed openly in films as a peaceful and even enlightening natural substance.

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas is a charming comedy focusing on the mid-life crisis of the main character played by Peter Sellers. He meets a sweet flower child and is introduced to the hippie world of counterculture and pot. As Frank Thompson, in his article, Movies on Drugs, writes, marijuana is an entirely positive force in Toklas; everyone who uses it (even unwittingly Sellers aging parents) emerges more thoughtful, aware, spontaneous - freer. I was hard-pressed to find films in any of the other historical periods that portray pot in such a benevolent light. Even Cheech and Chong are shown to be at best dull-witted and slow.

Interestingly, certain significations, especially surrounding sexuality and marijuana, continued through this period. The correlation of marijuana to sexual promiscuity is best demonstrated in Russ Meyers now infamous, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (170). In the opening scene we see the main characters smoke a joint and immediately begin having sex. Throughout the film, getting stoned is the excuse behind deviant sexual behaviour. At one point, a male character has sex with another male character simply because in his high state he could not control himself.6

The new CARA rating system, which is still in place today, demanded that any film with reference to drugs, even if presented in the most unglamourous of light, be rated R or restricted. This did not seem to deter too many directors in the 60s and 70s, however, because there are countless films from this period portraying drug use in all sorts of ways. Michael Starks writes,

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