Culture Jam Assignment

Original Advertisement: MedMen’s “Forget Stoner” Campaign

Photo: MedMen/Surface Magazine


The original advertisement I chose for this assignment was from a campaign created by MedMen, a company which produces and sells cannabis in the USA. MedMen currently has 19 licensed facilities across the US and “is the single largest financial supporter of progressive marijuana laws at the local, state and federal levels” (MedMen, 2019). The advertisement I chose to alter is from MedMen’s “Forget Stoner” campaign, which is aimed at reducing the stoner label put on cannabis users and the stigmas associated with cannabis use. I believe the original intent of this campaign is actually beneficial to our society, as the use of negative labels associated with drug use can be harmful to individuals who use drugs. However, this series of advertisements fails to recognize how social factors, such as race, impact how an individual is labelled for their cannabis use and how it impacts their lives.

Although this advertisement is somewhat positive in that it is attempting reduce stigmas associated with the term stoner, the campaign fails to address the racial disparities of the application of the term and of cannabis arrests. With the legalization of cannabis in many US states, arrests associated with cannabis have decrease significantly. However, for the cannabis related arrests that do occur, “black people are still much more likely to be arrested for pot in comparison to white people” (Vox, 2018). According to Vox, in Colorado the amount of cannabis arrests for African-Americans is three times more than Whites, in Washington, DC the arrest rate is four times more for African-Americans, and in Alaska the arrest rate is about ten times more (Vox, 2018).

Although this campaign is attempting to reduce stigmas and stereotypes about individuals who use cannabis, it fails to address the racial implications behind cannabis and other drug related labels. This campaign attempts to normalize cannabis use, however fails to address how cannabis use unequally impacts racial minorities, especially African-Americans and Latin-Americans. These negative labels are applied to these groups more often than White Americans due to racial biases, resulting in higher rates of arrests and incarceration for cannabis related crimes.


Culture Jammed Advertisement: The Racial Inequalities of Cannabis Crimes

Photo: MedMen/Surface Magazine


My culture jammed version of the MedMen “Forget Stoner” advertisement attempts to reveal racial inequalities associated with drug-use labels. Although my alteration is very simple, it shows how simple labels often have very real impacts. With the disproportionately large rate of racial minorities arrested for cannabis crimes, it is apparent that many racial biases continue to exist around cannabis use.

The original campaign showed a diverse range of models in terms of race, gender, and age, however did not show how these factors impact individuals differently due to social inequalities in our society. My culture jammed advertisement shows how the simple label of stoner, or other labels associated with cannabis use, impact people of colour differently. The use of cannabis by African-Americans is disproportionately more criminalized in the USA than any other racial group, showing how racial biases and stereotypes are at play when labelling people who use cannabis. The original campaign addresses how negative labels influence society to view cannabis users in a negative way, whilst failing to address how these labels are unequally applied by race and the serious consequences these labels hold.

Out of the various models used for this campaign, I specifically chose to include the police officer as I felt the impact on the viewer would be stronger. In the current political climate of the US, the inclusion of the police officer and the African-American male with the American flag brings further awareness to the racial inequalities of the American justice system. The imagery of these models and the US flag adds another layer to the impact of this altered advertisement as it relates to how to the US justice system at large unjustly treats African-Americans, not just relating to cannabis labels and crimes.

As cannabis is becoming increasingly normalized and legalized in our society, it is important to focus on unequal and unjust application of cannabis related laws. Rates of cannabis related arrests are lowering and many individuals incarcerated for cannabis related crimes are being pardoned, however it is apparent that those still being arrested for these crimes are more often people of colour.



Levine, S. (2018). How designers are cultivating a new aesthetic for cannabis. Retrieved from

Lopez, G. (2018). After legalization, black people are still arrested at higher rates for marijuana than white people. Retrieved from