19-01-2018 We’ve updated our article “10 must-see cannabis documentaries” (original article by Martijn, published on 02-01-2014).×
cannabis documentaries Documentaries are the perfect way to open people’s eyes, so it’s no surprise that there’s a whole series of high-quality documentaries about cannabis that dispel myths and half-truths. We have selected 10 of the best for you. Lights, camera, action!
A good documentary is a bit like the red pill in the Matrix: enlightening, revealing, real. After taking it, nothing will be the same again and you will see the world from an entirely new perspective. In times of fake news and “alternative truths”, blogs and videos are assuming an important role in the formation of opinions. However, even for documentaries, it’s worth taking a closer look! Because every documentary is based on more than just facts; they also incorporate the motive of a director, who wants to create a particular response from his audience.
The following 10 films highlight cannabis from different perspectives and allow smokers, producers, scientists, doctors and politicians to have their say. Overall, they provide a clear overview of a controversial, misunderstood and political plant.
Grass – The History of Marijuana (1999)
Director: Ron Mann
Interesting fact: the narrator is the actor Woody Harrelson
A good introductory film that offers a historical perspective on the plant and its use. Ron Mann relays serious information, but also understands the importance of conveying it in an entertaining manner. This film demonstrates how cannabis was portrayed badly through targeted propaganda and the type of catastrophic consequences that are arising due to the war against drugs. The soundtrack, which includes a sprinkling of classics such as “Reefer Man” and “One Toke Over The Line“, was particularly appealing to us.
Director: Michael Blieden
Interesting fact: a parody of “Super Size Me” by stand-up comedian Doug Benson
Doug Benson’s answer to the film “Super Size Me” is one of the funniest documentaries there are about cannabis. True to the original, Benson consumes cannabis non-stop for 30 days and takes various tests to check the effects on his body and mental wellbeing. Before the experiment, Benson abstained for a month.
The Union – The Business Behind Getting High (2007)
Director: Brett Harvey
Interesting fact: probably offers the most extensive overview of the industry there is
Perhaps the most informative cannabis documentary in history. We follow the scriptwriter Adam Scorgie through Canada and learn how exactly an illegal industry is able to exist. During this documentary, everyone involved has the opportunity to have their say – from producers, criminologists, doctors, politicians and economists to leading figures in popular culture. The film looks at the subject of cannabis and says a lot about today’s society and its lack of freedom.
Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis (2011)
Director: Anna Rau
Interesting fact: focuses solely on medicinal cannabis
In her film, Anna Rau focuses on the medicinal aspects of cannabis. She illustrates how cannabis works and what symptoms of illness it can be used to fight. In the manner of a scientific feature, the film contains in-depth interviews with physicians, patients, researchers, as well as sceptics.
A NORML Life (2011)
Director: Rod Pitman
Interesting fact: highlights the legislation on medicinal cannabis in the USA
NORML is the acronym for the “National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws”, a US non-profit organisation based in Washington. The aim, as explained in the documentary, is for cannabis to be legalised. “A NORML Life” provides the viewer with a good overview of medicinal cannabis in the USA. Attentive observers will know, of course, that a great deal has improved since the film was released.
When we grow, this is what we can do (2011)
Director: Seth Finegold
Interesting fact: one of the few European documentaries about cannabis
A kind of short version of “The Union”, focusing on Great Britain. In his 50-minute film, Seth Finegold looks at many different aspects of cannabis – from industrially grown hemp to the origins of the prohibition, and from medicinal use to equipment for personal cultivation. One of the experts speaking in the film is David Nutt, Head of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and former drugs advisor to the British government.
The Culture High (2014)
Director: Brett Harvey
Interesting fact: from the makers of “The Union”
An enthralling story with a sprinkling of famous faces such as Snoop Dog, Joe Rogan and Wiz Khalifa. This star power is supplemented with expert opinions and new research results. “The Culture High” questions the arguments of the legalisation opponents and uncovers their true motives. Brett Harvey breaks down the current cannabis ban like you might a house of cards. A film that’s not to be missed!
Weed I, II & III (2013 – 2015)
Interesting fact: CNN’s DOC series
In 2013, Dr Sanja Gupta recognised that he had been deceiving himself. As CNN’s medical correspondent, he is reported not to have looked into the medicinal effects of cannabis in sufficient detail and misled the public. When he shot “WEED”, he became acquainted with the plant’s medicinal uses and decided to come clean with viewers. Gupta switched from being an opponent to an advocate of cannabis.
GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution (2016)
Director: Dale Beaumont-Brown
Interesting fact: a British film funded by crowdfunding website Kickstarter
Thirty-year-old Clark French has multiple sclerosis (MS). Because he uses cannabis to fight the symptoms of his illness, he regularly comes into conflict with the law and exposes himself to a social stigma. The true strength of this film lies in its simplicity. Without all the razzle-dazzle, this film portrays ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of courage.
The Legend of 420 (2017)
Director: Peter Spirer
Interesting fact: shows where the journey to legalisation is going
Part comedy, part documentary, Peter Spirer strikes the difficult balance between fun and seriousness. Because the film covers a large number of topics, it can sometimes appear somewhat chaotic. The last third of the film, which focuses on the cannabis entrepreneurs and their new products, is particularly interesting. They answer the question of where the cannabis industry is headed.