A textual analysis of and comparison between early 20th Century and contemporary marijuana propaganda
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Marijuana has become a popular media topic in the United States since the passing of California’s medicinal marijuana bill in 1996. Currently, 28 states have enacted some version of medical marijuana legislation, and five states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. This study applies propaganda and documentary theories to early 20th century and contemporary audiovisual marijuana media content. A qualitative textual analysis compares two anti-marijuana texts, Reefer Madness (1936) and The Truth About Marijuana (2008), with two pro-marijuana texts, Hemp for Victory (1942) and Weed (2013), to define similarities and differences. Weed is additionally analyzed to determine if it provides useful information for future audiovisual propaganda research. This assessment shows how future media practitioners, specifically journalists, can learn from previous marijuana propaganda as new models for dissemination of marijuana-related information emerge.