When you think about the criminalization of cannabis it’s hard not to conjure up the frenzied images of the classic propaganda movie Reefer Madness and the pulp novel covers sensationalizing the perils of marijuana use. Those covers are both great art and insight into the collective psyche during that period of time.
Pulp books were the fiction of the masses, printed on cheap pulp paper stock and usually sold for a dime in drug stores. They grew in popularity during the 1930s before fading away around the mid-’50s. Topics ranged from serials about cowboys, detectives and space adventure, to more titillating tales of loose women, liquor and general debauchery.
Marijuana use was fodder for more than a few of those cautionary tales. These gems warned about the dangers that awaited in “the big city,” which was apparently filled with distraught, thrill-seeking addicts ready to pounce on the young and naïve.
Here are four of our favorite pulp covers featuring those poor, reefer-maddened souls.
That Other Hunger
For those who like a little lesbianism with their weed. (I know I certainly do.)
That Other Hunger is the story of Lisa McBride, a naïve young girl, who moves to New York City, falls for an aging lesbian, Fran and then ditches her for a hunky model, Craig. However, Craig is not what he seems and forces Lisa to buy lots of pot and get high. (Oh, the horror!)
Fran, who finds a new young thing, Sally, warns Lisa about crazy pot parties and orgies. (Cause there’s nothing like a bunch of sex-crazed stoners.) Sadly, Fran gets murdered by a crazed Craig, but there is a happy ending for our young ingenue: Lisa ends up in the arms of Sally. (Harsh, girl, harsh.)
Jazz music is a gateway drug. Just ask Kenny G.
“Joyce Taylor was a nice high school girl, maybe a little wild, and when she is kicked out of school for doing a bump-and-grind number on a cafeteria table she moves to the big city and gets a job. There she meets a man who introduces her to the smoky world of jazz, and before she knows it, she’s inhaled some of that sweet, sweet smoke.”
The first rule of Reefer Club is…
“The club was a thrilling new experience for Daphne West. It gave her a sense of being something more than just an ordinary girl at Carvel High. For the first time in her life she had a feeling of being important, of truly belonging… But the belonging, she discovered, could go too far.”
The Marijuana Mob
The original title was Figure it Out For Yourself.
“A terrorizing tale of kidnapping, murder, dope peddling and politics.” Otherwise known as the George W. Bush years.
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