Fact check: Viral ad on marijuana and ‘youth joining satanic cults’ is a hoax

The claim: Image shows a warning from the Ad Council on marijuana being ‘the leading cause of America’s youth joining satanic cults’

A viral public service announcement warning on the effects of marijuana and “satanic cults” recently shared to Facebook claims to come from the Ad Council. 

“Smoke a ‘doobie’? You’re smoking with SATAN,” reads an image of the purported advertisement. “Marijuana is the leading cause of America’s youth joining Satanic Cults, and that’s a fact.”

The warning continues, “Be Smart, DON’T Start!” Below the text is an Ad Council logo and an image of two people smoking marijuana from a pipe.

The post was shared on March 10 by the page Psycho ’78 Productions and the photo has over 900 shares and 700 reactions. 

USA TODAY reached out to the page for comment. 

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Advertisement is fake, not from Ad Council 

The viral marijuana warning claiming to come from the Ad Council is fake, and small text at the bottom of the photo suggests that it was created as satire. 

Ellyn Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Ad Council, confirmed to USA TODAY via email that the image is not an Ad Council piece.

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The text at the bottom of the photo reads, “If you or someone you know is addicted to marijuana, call Domino’s at 215-712-1000, rent a tape and enjoy!”

USA TODAY previously debunked a similar post in November in which an image claimed to show an Ad Council warning on the “murderous” side effects of marijuana. 

The nonprofit organization has authentic warnings on its site related to marijuana that warn people to avoid driving while under the influence.

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Our rating: False

An image claiming to show a graphic from the Ad Council on marijuana being the “devil’s lettuce” is FALSE, based on our research. The Ad Council confirmed that the warning is fake, and similar advertisements on marijuana claiming to come from the Ad Council have been previously debunked. 

Our fact-check sources:

  • Ad Council, Accessed March 11, Drug-Impaired Driving Prevention
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 29, 2020, “Fact check: Viral warning on marijuana’s ‘murderous’ side effects and Thanksgiving is fake”
  • Ellyn Fisher, email statement to USA TODAY

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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