"The Toker" cannabis videos are little more than new aged propaganda

Published Dec 21, 2019 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Talaj

In a world with cannabis as a freshly legal recreational substance, it makes sense that we would see new commercials, advertisements., and videos in a different light than we may be used to, but few had expected to see nothing positive on the subject.

Unfortunately, due to Canada’s strict laws surrounding how companies that make weed-related products can present themselves or their products to consumers, it is nearly impossible for companies like Tweed to advertise their pot in a similar manner to what is so commonly done with alcohol. Cannabis videos that are not created for the sole purpose of education are barred from sharing the media spotlight, but it remains unclear what types of learning materials are allowed.

This ‘difficult to navigate’ system has left most cannabis industry players to find other means of getting the word out to interested customers, but it seems that certain organizations are utilizing this uneven playing field to spread fear and unsubstantiated propaganda, a move that is banned, and yet it is currently financially and otherwise supported by Canada’s federal government.

Reefer Madness returns

Those of us who grew up during an era that was filled to the rim with damaging and entirely fake propaganda like, the Reefer Madness cannabis videos, can recognize this kind of manipulation from a mile away, and despite federal marijuana legalization, a brand new series called ‘The Toker’ has been released, and it’s almost as bad as the original Reefer Madness hysteria, in cartoon form.

The Ontario Lung Association and partners release The Toker

One of the vital points that no one argues is that cannabis videos on the big screen today, according to law, must be purely informational and factual, because that’s what true educational content is, isn’t it? Since it is literally written into law that this must be the case, one would assume that all content providers would be forced to adhere to the rules, but right now, there is a mini-series called The Toker that is rubbing both cannabis enthusiasts and activists the wrong way.

With many comparing it to old-school propaganda like Reefer Madness, it has stoners all over the world, calling for it to be pulled from the online YouTube platform. Mostly for fear of the misinformation shifting the general public’s opinion back towards one that is less accepting.

The mini-series currently has a total of six installments, all of which are available in both French and English, with more translations planned for the near future. The superstar of the show is a superhero who smokes pot, and because of it, he can never quite make it in time to save the day.

If reading that description made you cringe a little bit, then you better find a place to sit before reading any more of the specifics of watching one for yourself, because the message of every single part of the series puts an emphasis on the idea that if you smoke cannabis, you could never really be a superhero or anyone else that other people could truly count on at all.

This is a terrifying message to send out into the world. Especially on a platform like YouTube that hosts billions of users daily, many of which are underage children who are just learning or have yet to find out about the substance in any meaningful way. As if the subtle message alone wasn’t insulting enough, everything looks just like a cartoon that might be appealing to children, showing that the government and its funded organizations are pretty much breaking their own rules to set a narrative.

The Toker is an animated mini-series, and the very first episode takes only a couple of minutes to show a comfortable superhero who is just sitting down to enjoy breakfast when he sees on the news that there are people who need his help. The scene cuts and jumps to the colorful green character who is winded and gasping for air from the run over, and by the end, he shows up just in time to see that he’s too late to save anyone.

The rest of the cannabis episodes are just as insulting, and by the final part in the series, the Toker only has to move a short distance to press a button to save the day, but his trouble with breathing makes even that simple of a task impossible. No matter which episode you watch, you will see a terrible portrayal of a cannabis smoker that can’t do anything right, and it’s all ultimately because he chooses to indulge in a few puffs of weed.

The Ontario Lung Associate claims the Toker cannabis videos are warranted

The supposed idea behind this terrible YouTube series is that the public needs to be educated on the harms of smoking cannabis, especially now that it is legal. To some, that might sound like a valid argument, until you delve a little bit deeper and realize that there is absolutely no substantiated or reliable evidence to prove that smoking pot causes any long term effects on the lungs beyond mucus build-up and slight inflammation.

Aside from the long-term considerations, if you were to stop and think for a moment about every stoner that you have ever known, is wheezing something that comes to mind, or even something that any of them do? Making such bold claims to an undereducated audience, be it adults or minors, is laughable at best and devastating at worst.

To make a joke of a therapeutic substance that offers such a vast variety of benefits is disgraceful, and considering the fact that it’s coming from a source that so many people consider to be reliable, these inflated claims are bound to have done damage already, and the longer they remain free and easy to access online, the more that the image of tokers will take a hit for the worst.

The effects of stereotypes and propaganda on the Canadian cannabis industry

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