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.
7 Cannabis Documentaries You Should Watch
Sunday May 3, 2020
I n the past 10 years, jurisdictions the world over have shifted their policies on cannabis. A plant that was once looked upon as extremely dangerous with no medical value is now being prescribed by doctors around the globe. In 2020, it seems like the majority of people you speak to are in favor of the legalization of cannabis.
How did public and professional opinion on cannabis shift so drastically in such a short time? Part of the answer is thanks to the media, and specifically documentary filmmakers. The following influential films not only spread the truth about cannabis, but managed to win the hearts and minds of voters to create lasting change. While we’re dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and spending lots of time quarantined indoors, it’s a good time to check out some of the top cannabis documentaries.
1. CNN’s Weed
CNN’s Weed, a project first embarked upon by chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, was incredibly impactful due to its reach and its timing. Weed, which first aired in 2013, was one of very few cannabis documentaries to ever air on a primetime news network.
In Weed, Gupta tells stories of patients who changed his mind on the medical value of cannabis. The most touching story was of a young girl in Colorado, Charlotte, who was saved from Dravet Syndrome by cannabis-derived CBD treatments – Charlotte has sadly passed away recently, but her legacy will live on forever in the cannabis movement.
The year after Weed was released, Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use. Charlotte’s story has been mentioned in the texts of CBD laws across the country. In 2018, the Farm Bill federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD.
In the two years following, CNN released Weed 2 and Weed 3, extending the documentary series to 3 hours in total. The sequels look at America’s changing cannabis laws and the budding medical cannabis industry.
2. Super High Me
Created by comedian Doug Benson, 2007’s Super High Me, was released before many of the recent changes to US cannabis legislation took place. At the time, the general public largely still thought cannabis to be detrimental or even dangerous, especially when consumed every day.
Benson set out to prove them wrong in Super High Me. Following the formula of the 2004 fast-food documentary Super Size Me, he spent a “cleansing period” detoxing from any cannabis. He then consumed cannabis every day for a month. His results helped to disprove some common perceptions of cannabis, especially his improved SAT test scores during his “high” period.
Grass is a 1999 film which uses archival footage to illustrate cannabis’ history of illegality. The research for Grass was based on the work of respected cannabis historians like Jack Herer. First airing at the Toronto Film Festival, Grass enjoyed a wider reach than earlier media on the topic of cannabis history.
Grass was released only 3 years after California passed prop 215, the first medical cannabis law in the US. During a time of shifting public opinion on cannabis, Grass showed a wide audience that the history of cannabis illegality was driven by racism and propaganda. In doing so, the film lent credence to activist groups working hard for legalization at the turn of the millennium.
4. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
The Union, a 2007 multi-award-winning documentary is arguably one of the most information-packed pieces written on cannabis to date. The film stars Joe Rogan and Tommy Chong and focuses on Canada’s then-illegal, multi-billion dollar cannabis industry.
The Union follows cannabis producers, police officers, criminologists, economists, doctors, politicians and pop culture figures to examine how Canada’s illegal industry is able to thrive. The film also examines the Canadian black market cannabis industry’s impact on American cannabis legislation and enforcement.
5. The Culture High
Brett Harvey, award-winning director of The Union, returned in 2014 with The Culture High, which takes an expository look at contemporary cannabis prohibition in the US. The Culture High talks to celebrities, law enforcement, activists and experts to look at their arguments and motivation for opposing the US’ current cannabis laws. It also explores the impact of the ongoing War on Drugs on the daily lives of citizens, and looks at the effort and money being poured in changing cannabis legislation.
Like The Union, The Culture High was released at international film festivals and garnered multiple awards. Its 2014 release date coincided with Colorado passing the US’ first recreational cannabis laws and gave further motivation to cannabis activists working to push further legalization.
6. Weed the People
In 2018’s Weed the People, critically acclaimed director Abby Epstein focuses on the use of cannabis as a treatment for cancer. Epstein documents the cannabis journey of several children with cancer and their families. The film shows both the miraculous successes and tragic disappointments, as well as the family’s fight against mean-spirited laws.
Epstein meets with caregivers who are pressing ahead with cannabis as a cancer treatment and features interviews with oncologists who support the use of cannabis. Weed the People offers a smart, emotional, and hopeful look at the ongoing medical cannabis debate. The 2018 documentary is one of the most recent documentaries on cannabis and features the most-up to date information of our recommendations. It serves as a reminder that the fight is not yet won, and pushes the activists of the next decade to continue the good fight.
7. Clearing the Smoke
Montana PBS’ 2011 documentary Clearing the Smoke steers clear of the social and political debate surrounding cannabis. Instead, the film centers on the value of cannabis as a medicine and the science behind its effects.
Clearing the Smoke prominently features Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist, Harvard professor, and lifelong medical cannabis advocate. Grinspoon is widely considered the world’s leading medical cannabis scientist, and enjoys the rare honor among scientists of having a cannabis strain named after him.
Exploring the topic via interviews with patients, doctors, advocates, and opponents, the film provides a nuanced and balanced snapshot of the state of cannabis medical science in 2011.
Cannabis Documentaries are Plentiful
There are many great documentaries out there on the topic of cannabis; too many to include them all in our recommendations. An influential documentary takes more than just a good argument and research. Storytelling is key to winning your audience over, and timing is key to making a wider-reaching difference.
Cannabis documentaries are being made more frequently in the past 15 years because the public is more receptive to their message. Many feel that federal legalization of cannabis is just around the corner. The quicker the truth can be spread to a wider audience, the faster change will come.
Have you seen a cannabis documentary that opened your eyes or changed your life? Tell us about it in the comments!
Cannabis reform has progressed substantially over the years, thanks in part to some enlightening documentaries that made it into popular culture. Check out these 7 documentaries that are worth the watch.