Synthetic Marijuana Turns People Into Zombies, Says Atrocious Govt. Anti-Drug Propaganda

You might be familiar with Reefer Madness, the drug war film from the 1930s that has become a cult classic because of its over-the-top scare tactics about marijuana. Generations have laughed at the film’s cartoonish hysteria, with young students portrayed committing acts of violent lunacy after smoking a joint with their friends. Rather than educating young people about marijuana, Reefer Madness is widely seen as the epitome of unreliable and exaggerated propaganda.

The District of Columbia’s Department of Health seems to have a taken a page directly from Reefer Madness for its new advertising campaign, suggesting a synthetic form of marijuana known as “K2” or ”Spice” will turn people who use it into “zombies.” The ads recently made their debut on the DC Metro, and are wacky enough to look like a parody. Teenagers – presumably under the influence and grotesquely made up to look like “Walking Dead” extras – pose in various stages of decay with captions like “No One Wants to Take a Zombie to the Prom.” Seriously?

Just about everyone agrees that teenagers should be discouraged from taking drugs and warned about potential health risks. But decades of exaggerated claims and egg frying commercials have taught us that wild and fictitious notions about drugs do very little to generate confidence, trust and safety among young people. Research by the Government Accountability Office, in fact, has found that these sorts of tactics are ineffective at reducing teen drug use rates.

There may be legitimate health concerns associated with synthetic marijuana, a chemical compound created to imitate the still-prohibited plant. Like any drug, “fake weed” should be carefully studied to better understand its effect on humans, and regulated accordingly. Giving teens access to information grounded in science and health is a much more sensible alternative to preparing them for the zombie apocalypse.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.