5 Films That Encourage Pot Use + 5 Films That Scare You Straight

By  · Published on April 20th, 2010

As all law enforcement officials, future potential employers and my parents know ‐ I’ve never smoked or even seen a picture of weed. However, it’s my job to be an expert in certain cinematic fields, and, in the case of this list, that field happens to be full of marijuana.

So, as someone who can’t even spell reafer because he so absolutely, totally hasn’t ever even heard of it, I’d like to dig into a group of films that teach us that smoking grass is a good thing (or at least a safe thing) and a group of films that teach us that getting high is the worst possible choice you can make in life.

Not all of these films are classified as “Stoner Movies” ‐ an ironically rigid genre ‐ but they all have marijuana use and something to say about it.

Plus, you didn’t want to read the same old list of Stoner Films with Dazed and Confused near the top spot, did you?

Did you?

Man, you don’t even know if you’re hallucinating this website or not right now, do you?

Anyway ‐ if the words on the screen aren’t transforming into Jessica Rabbit and singing La Bamba for you yet, take a peek. One little peek at this list won’t hurt you, and remember, the first look is always free:

Marijuana Is Your Friend*

5. Slackers (2002)

The Pitch: Three friends celebrate successfully cheating their way through college and one of them dates James King.

The Lesson: Criminally overlooked and hated upon by (incorrect) critics, Slackers shows us that great things happen when you’re high. Great things like owning a car with hydraulics, beautiful ladies swarming you, and riding a three-man bike with your two best pals. I have no idea why Jason Segel is in lingerie, but that’s the mysterious joy of smoking weed. Plus, you get to be Peter Pan and get really hungry for free pancakes.

4. Saving Grace (2000)

The Pitch: A woman gets burdened with debt when her husband dies, and she turns to marijuana to make a living.

The Lesson: Not only is Saving Grace a fun movie, it follows the same dry formula of flicks like The Full Monty and Kinky Boots while applying the growing of illicit substances to the mix. It’s like “Weeds” in that a too-dependent woman turns to pot to help her after her husband’s death, but there are way more prim British ladies smoking at tea time in it. Consider that a bonus. The ultimate lesson here is that if you need a lot of money to pay your mortgage, you can always start hilariously growing weed and selling it with Craig Ferguson.

3. Marihuana (1936)

The Pitch: Smoking leads to swimming naked which leads to killing a girl which leads to getting pregnant which leads to stealing your own daughter.

The Lesson: Many people turn to Reefer Madness as the quintessential pot-sploitation film (and some even turn to Assassin of Youth), but I’d argue that Marihuana is far more over the top. There is just no way to watch this film without wanting to spark up a doobie (especially if you live in the 70s, and that’s still commonly used slang). Plus, who wouldn’t want to go on a wacky adventure where you have to hide a body and get pregnant without having a husband? Like the oft-mentioned Reefer Madness (which came out the same year), this film is so hilarious that it begs the audience to try pot. Also, there’s the promise of weird orgies and wild parties! Who doesn’t love those?

2. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Pitch: The Dude abides and exists in a state of general Dudeness.

The Lesson: Say what you will about the immediate effects of the drug, but The Big Lebowski really displays the long-term manifestations of an habitual user. More than most movies, we finally get a look at what happens when you spend years and years getting high: you develop a zen-like attitude toward everything, really dig on bowling, and have a bitchin’ rug that ties the room together. The Dude teaches us that eventually, after a lot of smoking, you reach a state of enlightenment.

1. Head (1968)

The Pitch: Hey, hey, the Monkees are stoned.

The Lesson: There’s something obvious about those rascally Beatles getting high and hanging out with important Eastern religion figures all the time, but there’s nothing that puts the stamp of approval on pot more firmly than the wholesome boys who sang “Daydream Believer” tripping balls on the stuff. We fully expect the bad boys to be doing the drug, but if sweet ol’ Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork are doing it, the drug must be super safe. We’re talking about teen idols who probably appeared on posters in your mom’s bedroom growing up. That’s as good as your mother endorsing pot. Plus, making sense of Head requires you to be completely baked.

There’s No Hope With Dope

5. Super Troopers (2001)

The Pitch: Three friends get high while driving and can’t pull over any farther.

The Lesson: What an absolute nightmare. If this harrowing tale of insane visions and sirens blaring isn’t enough to make you realize that smoking (and littering) is wrong, you’re probably already too hooked to turn back. You might even be far gone enough to believe you can own God’s beach. On a positive note ‐ while you’re in custody, the police usually have some pretty delicious Snozzberries for you to sample. Enjoy Mexico, moron.

4. PCU (1994)

The Pitch: Jon Favreau gets baked, forgets to get a keg and gets propositioned by an old lady.

The Lesson: It doesn’t take much to get Gutter high, but when he does partake, he suffers a fate worse than having to wear a tie-dye onesie and play Ultimate Frisbee. In his drug-addled mind, when a kindly old woman asks him to show her where the campus is, he believes she’s asking for him to “blow [her] where the pampers is.” It freaks him out, yes, but imagine if something similar happened to you and you ended up blowing an old woman in her pampers-area. Could you live with yourself afterward? Could you?

3. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Pitch: A stoner’s life falls the hell apart.

The Lesson: There are few better cautionary tales about the users lifestyle than The Big Lebowski. Not only does smoking a joint directly lead to a horrific car crash, it’s a known fact that if you draw a bath and light a few candles to enjoy a smoke, nihilists will break into your house and shove an amphibious rodent into your tub. The juxtaposition of that scene of relaxation with the threat of losing one’s Johnson is a subtle psychological note about the absurd dangers of messing with such a powerful substance. Plus, if you toke up, you might also be forced to learn what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.

2. American Beauty (1999)

The Pitch: A man turns his life around and then weed makes it all fall apart.

The Lesson: If you were a casual observer, you’d think this film belongs on the other list. After all, in American Beauty, Lester Burnham finds true happiness when he starts living right, exercising and enjoying the occasional joint. If you look deeply though, you’ll notice that smoking that occasional joint leads directly to being kissed by Chris Cooper, lusting after under-aged girls (surely the next stone on the path to Hell), and having your brains paint the wall in your dining room. It’s simple: smoke pot, and you’re head will be blown off. Lesson learned.

1. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

The Pitch: Tim Meadows teaches us the many horrors of marijuana.

The Lesson: In perhaps the most stark portrayal of all, this litany of terrible traits should be enough to get even the most hardcore user to wise up. It doesn’t give you a hangover, it’s not habit-forming, you can’t OD on it, it makes sex even better, it’s the cheapest drug there is. It’s a nightmare! Just say “No,” kids!

*Film School Rejects does not endorse doing anything illegal or suggest or imply that inanimate plants can befriend you.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.