Marihuana - Weed with Roots in Hell

Artist/maker unknown, American

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1936

Color metal relief print (poster)

Sheet: 41 3/4 x 27 5/16 inches (106 x 69.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The William H. Helfand Collection, 1989

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPicture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection

    Although marihuana had long been in widespread use in the United States, it was not thought to be a serious health problem until the 1930s. But the Depression exacerbated fear of the effects of marihuana in certain areas of the country, particularly the South and West, and it began to be perceived as being as dangerous as heroin. The film Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell played upon this fear, vividly describing the depths of degradation the drug might produce. To entice the viewer to see this "daring drug exposé," this poster combines lurid descriptions of the "shame, horror, despair,…misery, weird orgies, [and] unleashed passions" that marihuana can cause with vivid illustrations of the users themselves. Accuracy was not a major consideration, however, for marihuana is shown being injected in addition to being smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe. William H. Helfand, from The Picture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection (1991), p. 47.