Reefer Madness: A Case Study of Communication Bias Case Study by Incubus101

Reefer Madness: A Case Study of Communication Bias
An examination of media bias using a case study of the Reefer Madness campaign of the 1920s and 1930s.
# 119596 | 2,240 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2009 | CA

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This paper delves into the Reefer Madness campaign and how it shaped the perception of marijuana and its users for decades. The paper explains that the racism of a misguided campaign still remains in the minds of those who experienced the reefer madness hysteria, and is a prime example of a bias in communication. Music's influence on the issue is also discussed. The author stresses the importance of fact selection, story development, and preconceived notions of subject matter in journalism, and defines how counter cultures can develop as a result of biased reporting.


Marijuana in the Media
Counter Culture and the Bias of Communication

From the Paper:

"Smoking marijuana became defined as a social problem in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Early reports of a drug being carried across the border by Mexican immigrants surfaced in the South Western United States1. The drug spread through other low income workers that were mostly Black and soon the drug was almost solely viewed as the vice of colored men who desired nothing more than to hurt young white women. Border towns were the first to adopt any form prohibition law against the drug as a measure of controlling immigrant workers. In 1914 El Paso, Texas became one of the first cities to ban the sale and possession of the drug.
"Other states facing large numbers of Black and Mexican laborers that used the drug began to prohibit the drug. In 1915 California drafted laws, as did Louisiana in 1924 and New York in 1927."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Anslinger, H.J.1937. Marijuana - Assassin of Youth. The American Magazine, July. Retrieved online at: of youth.html
  • CRAZED YOUTH KILLS FIVE OF FAMILY WITH AX IN TAMPA HOME, Michael Licata, Wife and Three Children Slain By Demented Son, from Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Florida, Oct. 18, 1933, pp. 1 & 8.
  • Mander, C. Emily Murphy: Rebel. 1985. Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data McWilliams, J.C. 1990. The Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930 1962
  • Montana Standard (Butte-Anaconda, Montana), January 27, 1929, p. 3, col. 6.
  • Murphy, E. The Black Candle. 2008. Dodo Press p. 114

Cite this Case Study:

APA Format

Reefer Madness: A Case Study of Communication Bias (2010, May 11) Retrieved December 03, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Reefer Madness: A Case Study of Communication Bias" 11 May 2010. Web. 03 December. 2021. <>