The famous PSA reboot is a smash hit
1997: This Is Your Brain On Drugs
Every kid from the 90s remembers it. “This is your brain on drugs.” An egg sizzles on a frying pan. Then actress Rachael Leigh Cook smashes up a dimly-lit kitchen with the same frying pan. 20 years ago, The Partnership for a Drug-Free America pulled out all the stops for this public service announcement (PSA). Scare tactics. Violent rage. Dramatic effect. No wonder it stuck in our minds even better than Rachael Leigh Cook’s starring role in She’s All That.
The 1997 message doesn’t stop with our brains/eggs. That frying pan/drug wreaks havoc on the whole metaphorical kitchen. “It’s not over yet,” says 90’s Cook. “This is what your family goes through” (breaks some dishes) “and your friends, and your body, and your job” (smash, crash, shatter) “and your self respect, and your future.”
After listing all these casualties of drug use, she throws the pan back on the stove. Then comes that line that has echoed across two decades: “Any questions?”
2017: This Is Your Brain On Drug Policy
Fast forward 20 years. It’s 2017 and the tides are changing. Legalization and decriminalization of marijuana is spreading, state by state, within in the USA. Abroad, countries like Israel, Uruguay and Canada are on a march toward legalization on the federal level. Public acceptance of cannabis use is growing fast — even faster, some argue, than research can keep up with.
Experimentation with legal recreational cannabis policy in places like Colorado, California and Washington prove successful, and more states are following suit. We’ve proved that legalization doesn’t lead to higher teen consumption. With bigger eggs to fry — such as the opioid epidemic — it seems the war on drugs is changing its focus.
It’s high time the 90’s era PSA was updated. Rachael Leigh Cook agreed. She got together with Green Point Creative and the Drug Policy Alliance to shake up the classic anti-drug message. She’s still got her frying pan and her eggs. She even wears almost the same outfit. But there’s a new villain in this PSA. It’s not drugs but rather drug policy.
This time, the eggs represent people, and there are two kinds: white and brown. The white eggs never get caught for drug use, but the brown eggs do.
“The war on drugs is ruining people’s lives,” says present-day Cook, after an egg-smashing animation about a brown egg that gets crushed by the criminal justice system. “It targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counterparts. It cripples communities. It costs billions. And it doesn’t work.”
Then, before we know how to feel about this indictment of the drug war and its racially biased enforcement, Cook delivers the same clincher as before. “Any questions?”
“The war on drugs is a war on people,” says the Drug Policy Alliance’s closing frame. At My 420 Tours, we cheered at the end. As we watched it, our only question was why these educational PSAs about the drug war haven’t come out sooner. Actually, the timing was deliberate. The revamped spot was released on 4/20. Brilliant!
This is your brain on a cannabis tour
In the smoking- and vaping-friendly state of Colorado, our job is to celebrate and educate about this new frontier of legalization. We’re seeing the beginning of the end of the drug war, and Denver is ground zero within the US. Come see what the post-prohibition landscape looks like on one of our classic Denver pot tours. Get educated, get legal, and get high. You can do all three at the same time on our immersive marijuana experiences.