7 Hugely Informative Cannabis Documentaries
published on October 2, 2020
Table of Contents
“50 years of criminalization. It came out of the whole idea that we don’t care for each other anymore. It’s every man for himself. We were always like that. The question is: can we go back to caring about each other?” (introduction of The Culture High, 2014)
Part of the process of becoming a smart stoner is to be aware of how the 2010s was a decade of enormous victories for the free marijuana movement worldwide. This is especially true in the U.S., the biggest sponsor of the war on drugs in the 20th century. To understand this victory, stoners must understand the social cost it took for us to have legal marijuana. It’s the result of the fight of millions to provide the dignity and healthcare of their loved ones. It’s a victory of the people.
In this article, you will find the ultimate guide to hugely informative documentaries. Together, they show the bigger picture of the complicated relationship between the U.S. and cannabis and sets the tone of the winning narrative of the decade. Culture, business, economy, medicine, criminal justice, journalism, family…
Every aspect of the impacts of marijuana on social life is approached in this documentary series. Enjoy!
Grass is Greener (2019)
- Year: 2019
- Duration: 1h 37 min
- IMDb – 7.0/10
- Director: Fab 5 Freddie
- How to watch it: Grass is Greener on Netflix
In the 1900s, marijuana entered the U.S. market from New Orleans, Louisiana, and El Paso, Texas. Soon it became popular among the American’s black and Mexican people and started shaping America’s cultural formation, nightlife, and arts scene. At the same time, a reactionary prohibitionist movement was organized with a strategy of war and fake news against part of the American people.
Available on Netflix, Grass is Greener is a masterpiece directed by Fab 5 Freddy, about the origins of marijuana in the U.S. and the contradictions developed from there. It reveals the American history of cannabis through the history of legends like Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Snoop Dogg, and many others. It’s a celebration of the greatness of marijuana’s legacy to jazz, hip hop, and World music. Put your headphones on because music is a key element in this gorgeous watch.
The other side of marijuana’s cultural legacy, the hideous war on drugs, is well documented. It offers a sophisticated intersectional debate on the war on drugs. It discusses marijuana’s prohibition as a key component in the oppression of people of color, women, and anti-war movements throughout the 20th century. It reveals the injustices made under the name of prohibition until today, and how the ‘reefer madness’ took the U.S. by storm.
Rolling Papers (2015)
- Year: 2015
- Duration: 1h 19 min
- IMDb – 6.2/10
- Director: Mitch Dickman
- How to watch it:Rolling Papers on Netflix
Released in 2015, Rolling Papers is localized in one of the biggest epicenters of the current worldwide movement of change of perception and conscience regarding marijuana use. It is the first take on the legalization of recreational marijuana in the American state of Colorado, and it’s a celebration of the transformative potential of cannabis in a domestic economy.
Directed by Mitch Dickman, Rolling Papers covers The Denver Post and their innovative stance of creating a cannabis journalism section, under the leadership of Ricardo Baca. This documentary reveals how a shrinking journalism economic niche is turning the fortunes around with the force of the free marijuana movement.
It offers a broad look at the challenges and responsibilities that journalism carries regarding the cannabis niche’s integrity, quality control, and investigative efforts to guarantee the application of consumers’ rights. It also goes deep in journalists’ personal life, reflecting on polemic themes like parenting and cannabis, and the lingering preconceptions from the war on drugs propaganda.
So get your Netflix account ready, because Rolling Papers is a must-watch, and not only to cannabis enthusiasts. It shows the myriad of opportunities for cannabis businesses, products, and peripheral work that the marijuana niche is demanding in the post-war era. Also, enjoy the brilliantly edited cutscenes of marijuana strains that will make your mouth water.
Weed the People (2018)
- Year: 2018
- Duration: 1h 34 min
- IMDb – 7.1/10
- Director: Abby Epstein
- How to watch it: Weed the People on Netflix
Winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary in the 2018’s Nashville Film Festival, Weed the People is a documentary available on Netflix about family and cannabis.
It is a portrait of American families’ experience with childhood cancer. It reveals their struggles against the disease and the reactionary legacy of the war on drugs. It shows how the U.S. government devastated the scientific field compromised with researching the positive effects of cannabinoids for medicine, in favor of a scientific agenda compromised with the war.
Many things changed in the U.S. since the release of this documentary. In 2019, CBD for medical purposes became legal at the federal level, which gave a new life to cannabis research of oncology. Still, it is excellent in adding perspective to the contradiction of American’s prohibitionist scientific tendencies in the war on drugs era, with more progressive international studies that identified the CBD research with the cure of cancer research.
Directed by Abby Epstein, Weed the People showcases the American families’ struggles and suffering, which led to the federal legalization of medical marijuana. All of it with a very intimate and sensitive approach. It’s forever needed reminding that U.S. legal marijuana is not a gift from the government. Actually, it’s the result of the fight of millions to provide the dignity and healthcare of their loved ones. It’s a victory of the people.
The Culture High (2015)
- Year: 2015
- Duration: 2h
- IMDb – 8.2/10
- Director: Brett Harvey
- How to watch it: The Culture High on Amazon
The Culture High is the spectacularly well written feature-length documentary directed by Brett Harvey in 2014. It has won Best Documentary at the 2015 AMPIA Awards, and multiple nominations for several awards in the 2015 AMPIA Awards, at the 2015 Leo Awards, and the 30th Warsaw International Film Festival.
Available on Vimeo, the introduction is strong, with one of the many acts of State brutality that plagues the countries infected with the war on drugs, and raises questions if we can go back to where we cared for each other, and to a place where the well being of the community mattered.
Starring Joe Rogan, with the presence of numerous specialists in marijuana from a neurological, psychiatric, social, and legal standpoint, The Culture High tackles the contradictions of the disinformation and hypocritical prohibitionist discourse that was mass advertised in the 20th century, demystifying the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia, addiction, lung damage, existential angst, and other aspects of human sociability.
With an emphatic display of the injustices promoted by the criminalization, the goal of this documentary is to destroy the prohibitionist discourse that legitimates violence on a global scale because of the universalization of war on drugs.
High Country: The Future of Weed (2013)
- Year: 2013
- Duration: 43 min
- IMDb – ?
- Director: VICE Motherboard
- How to watch it: High Country: The Future of Weed on Youtube
The style and class of Vice’s journalism take the steering wheel with the 2013 short documentary High Country: The Future of Weed. It takes place after decades of discrimination and negation of marijuana’s value to the people when many U.S. states started a legalization process of marijuana that even contemplated recreational use. In that scenario, Motherboard arrives in Colorado, the first regulated, taxed, and legal cannabis market to investigate the booming growth of cannabis-related businesses.
Available on YouTube, the documentary opts to start presenting us with professional cannabis grow, and the beautiful details of a cultivation model that doesn’t waste anything of the plant during the production processes, utilizing everything from the leaves to the flowers, without any loss of cannabis value. It’s a joy to watch.
Then, it proceeds to show the booming cannabis tech companies market, the crowdsourced online databases developed to fill part of the void left by the ban on marijuana scientific research endured in the highest stages of the war on drugs, and the increasing number of the already numerous ways that cannabis can be worked on from seed to consumption, and the jobs it can create.
A documentary that will convince you that there is no telling how far the cannabis industry can go from now.
WEED – A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (2013)
- Year: 2013
- Duration: 3 parts 43 min each
- IMDb – ?
- Director: CNN
- How to watch it: WEED – A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Youtube: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4
“WEED – A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta”, is a full-length documentary series aired by CNN in 2013. It reflects the change of perception in the U.S. media about marijuana. The series portrays the war on drugs propaganda as a general misconception developed by the first Drug Czar in the U.S., the former Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger. It theorizes that Anslinger opportunistically turned marijuana into #1 Public Enemy to gain political capital and increase his department’s budget.
Famous for its historically conservative ideological guidelines, CNN surprises by taking a smart and progressive approach regarding cannabis and serves as a milestone for the final stage of the victory of the legal marijuana movements in the United States of America.
Available on multiple sources on the web, it is a display of self-criticism from the American establishment. It is a critique of the poor handling of marijuana policies throughout the decades. It serves as the icing on the cake for this new world that joined the Green Rush.
- Year: 2016
- Duration: 45 min
- IMDb – 8.1/10
- Director: VICE media
- How to watch it: Weediquette on Viceland TV
Weediquette is an unfinished Viceland TV documentary series. Starring Krishna Andavolu, and his quest to discover the fortune of science, culture, medicine, and economics that the cannabis boom provides.
The project is not officially over, but altogether, Viceland and Krishna released 24 episodes in 2016 and 2017, touching many social aspects impacted by cannabis freedom and the end of the war on drugs. The topics are varied, and it approaches myths and facts about things like war veteran’s use of cannabis to treat PTSD. Autism treatment. Driving under the influence of marijuana. Issues on deportation. Religiosity. Parenting. Pediatric Use, and many more controversial topics.
Weediquette serves as an ode to marijuana, and it’s applications and has almost an encyclopedic value to the cannabis world given the high quality of information, state of the art video editing and writing, and the charisma of the star Krishna Andavolu. There’s no polemic revolving marijuana that’s left unchecked.
Now, in possession of the full reviews and synopsis of the most informative documentaries about weed, pick your order of watching. Make it based on your most significant interests and enhance your level of understanding of the cannabis world. Be conscious about the struggles, suffering, the benefits, and victories the legal marijuana movement has experienced in the past decades. Enjoy our victories. Don’t be satisfied with states of oppression, ignorance. The struggle for legal marijuana isn’t over.
Discover the shortlist of cannabis documentaries and open your views regarding the world of marijuana and the legal marijuana movement's impact on culture, medicine, economy, criminal justice, and more.
Netflix Documentary Argues that Cannabis can Save Lives
By Roland Sebestyén
How far would you go for a child who’s suffering from a very aggressive type of brain cancer? What would you do if doctors told you he roughly had eight months to live? Netflix’s critically acclaimed documentary, Weed the People is following desperate families who are running out of time and have no choice but to turn to alternative options. The new Netflix documentary follows the stories of families who have turned to medical cannabis.
“Is [cannabis] a medicine? It’s been medicine for thousands of years. It only hasn’t been medicine in [the US] for 70 years.”
During the documentary’s 97-minute running time, which is full of disturbing and infuriating quotes, this, above, takes the cake.
In the US, the use of medicinal cannabis was accepted and widely acknowledged for its benefits among doctors.
However, The Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 was a prohibition law out of fear regarding the recreational use of cannabis. Cannabis had been used as a treatment for many conditions, including neuralgia, alcoholism, opiate addiction, and even snakebite.
Although the bill aimed to prohibit any kind of non-medical usage, it also had a big impact on the medical use of the drug. Regardless of The American Medical Association’s argument about the lack of available substitutes, cannabis was removed from the United States Pharmacopeia.
In a nutshell, this is why people in the US have been denied treatment that might have had an impact on their wellbeing; treatment that might have had, in several cases, saved their lives.
Even though, in 2020, there are 33 states where medical use of cannabis is legal, the industry still has to fight against prejudice and preconception.
Weed the People was brave enough to break the stigma and ask the questions others hadn’t before.
Is cannabis an anti-cancer agent?
Sophie Ryan was just a baby when doctors diagnosed her with Optic Pathway Glioma. That is an extremely serious brain tumour that forms around the optic nerve. The tumour, in some cases, can cause blindness.
Sophie’s parents were adamant that they didn’t want her to get chemotherapy, so they were after an alternative treatment.
Her mother, Tracy Ryan, was against cannabis. However, they chose to give it a try:
“Literally 1,000 stars had to align for us to finally change our minds on cannabis. That was the only thing we just completely dismissed and refused to research because we thought it was so ridiculous.”
This is how they found Mara Gordon, the founder of Aunt Zelda’s Inc. The Ryans eventually chose to go along although they knew Ms. Gordon didn’t have medical training.
Although experts and researchers are still in the dark about cannabis as there is not enough thorough research available, some claim that cannabis’ beneficial effects are extraordinary.
Amanda Reiman, a drug policy expert, said:
“People have been using cannabis as a medicine for 5,000 years.
She continued: “THC has always been the star of the show because it’s the most psychoactive. But then research started showing that there were a lot of other cannabinoids in the plant that had as many, if not more, therapeutic effects.”
Furthermore, many researchers believe that cannabis is reducing problems with opioids and other pharmaceuticals. Opioid addiction and overdose can be a real danger during cancer treatment.
The bad news, however, is although the first evidence that cannabis may have anti-cancer activity came from the National Cancer Institute in 1974, experts claim those lines of investigation somehow disappeared.
It’s a vicious cycle that remains as long as cannabis is classed as a Schedule I drug in the US. Schedule I means research and trials are restricted by the law.
Although in 33 US states the use of medicinal cannabis is legal, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reaffirmed its position and refused to remove Schedule I classification.
Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, said:
“It seems to be so important that a group at NIH published a review and said that the endocannabinoid system is involved in essentially all human diseases. The cannabis plant compounds called cannabinoids work at those receptors.”
Mark Ware, MD, Pain Medicine, and Neurology added: “When you take cannabinoid in from outside by smoking or vaporising or eating or pharmaceutical, you are somehow tinkering with that system and adjusting the way in which those nerves and muscles and communication happen.”
But somehow the attitude towards cannabis is changing too slowly. In this respect, Weed the People aims to also show the other side of the argument.
The directors were able to find the right balance. As there is still an awful lot of dark spots, it was important to display that cannabis, on its own, might not be able to treat cancer.
The movie’s most moving bits were when Sophie’s doctor called in to tell her parents that she would need chemo straight away – regardless of continuing with the cannabis treatment.
According to the end credit, fortunately, both Sophie and another child, who was given traditional and cannabis treatment, will likely be able to live a healthy life.
On the other hand, the medical cannabis documentary also shows another young child who had been given eight months to live. He was getting traditional treatment and medicinal cannabis but sadly passed away.
As long as meaningful research into the potential of medical cannabis is restricted, families, doctors, and medical experts will remain in the dark.
Netflix’s critically acclaimed documentary, Weed the People is following desperate families who are turning to alternative treatments like cannabis.