5 Absolutely Insane Anti-Drug Commercials

The hysteria all started with Reefer Madness. The 1936 anti-drug propaganda movie set out to terrify the parental audience by depicting devastating, hypothetical effects of marijuana on teens. The Reefer Madness kids puffed a little of the devil’s herb and broke out in insanity, rape, and murder. The moral of the movie was that smoking weed is very evil.

In modern times, Reefer Madness takes other forms. In 2014, Colorado launched the $2 million Don’t Be a Lab Rat campaign. Backed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, this anti-pot marketing placed human-sized rat cages in highly trafficked public places. The idea was to alert teenagers that Colorado was becoming a testing ground for marijuana legalization; the state’s children would be test subjects if they smoked pot. No surprise to rodents everywhere, the rat cage strategy was a flop.

Even as states and cities across the country are loosening marijuana restrictions, public perception is being pepper-sprayed with anti-drug scare-tactics. Do not be afraid of this malicious, if well-intentioned, messaging. Let’s count down five of the most idiotic anti-drug ad campaigns in our modern age:

1. McGruff the Crime Dog Says Users Are Losers!

Why listen to an expert when an animated dog is ready to tell you about curing drug use? Question: If McGuff, make that McGruff, is trying to make people not use drugs, why does this cheesy ’80s video make me feel like I’m tripping on acid? Standout lyric: “Learning how to say no can make a winner of you!”

2. Real Talking Dog

Much like the McGruff video, here’s another talking dog from back in the 2000s; except he’s not animated. This animal is a real, actual dog. What is this girl smoking that can make a dog talk? And how much is it for an eighth?

3. I'm Not Chicken!

Here’s more of the counterintuitive reasoning behind trippy animated cartoon characters telling kids not to use drugs. In this PSA from the ’90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tell students not to use pot—even if declining to pass a joint results in the youth being called “a chicken.” The takeaway line: “I’m not chicken; you’re a turkey.” Boom on you, peer pressure! You’ve been served like a Tofurky potpie! But without the pot!

4. Pee Wee Herman and Anti-Crack

Nothing steers people away from drugs more than stern words from Pee Wee Herman; the wisest man on earth. “This is crack,” says Pee Wee Herman—back in the ’80s. “It isn’t glamorous or cool.” Correct, Pee Wee, and neither is being captured in a Florida movie theater while practicing a private passion.

5. Jumping Into the Pool

The point of the 1989 “Jumping Into the Pool” anti-drug PSA is to scare kids by thrusting them into a nightmarish scenario. The spot equates doing drugs to waking up to find yourself jumping into an empty pool. Or, are they saying if you do drugs you’ll have such bad judgment that you’ll find yourself jumping into an empty swimming pool while fully awake? Mixed messages never helped anyone.