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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.

The 7 Best Cannabis Documentaries to Watch Right Now

Here are the seven best documentaries to give yourself a comprehensive look at cannabis.

With the growth of the cannabis industry comes a growth in cannabis media. And with so many people eager to learn about this young and burgeoning space, cannabis documentaries are popping up all over the place, helping to educate the masses on everything from medicinal marijuana and the business behind cannabis to legislative issues and cultural phenomena.

If you’re looking to learn more about the wide world of cannabis, here are seven cannabis documentaries that you have to watch!

The Culture High

The Culture High provides the perfect primer on all things legislation. It’s a great place to start when looking at cannabis documentaries, taking viewers through a deep look into cannabis prohibition in North America. From the failed war on drugs to looking at why cannabis prohibition was first enacted in the first place, The Culture High provides a macroscopic view of these issues.

According to their own website : “ The Culture High is the riveting story that tears into the very fibre of modern day marijuana prohibition to reveal the truth behind the arguments and motives governing both those who support and those who oppose the existing pot laws.”

The documentary features key interviews with doctors, sheriffs, dealers, and actors to provide a comprehensive view on cannabis prohibition. The film even stars the likes of famous cannabis activists Joe Rogan, Snoop Dogg, Sir Richard Branson, Wiz Khalifa, and more. If you’re new to the cannabis world, The Culture High is a great place to start.

Watch The Culture High on Amazon Prime Now!

Weed the People

From famous actress and cannabis activist Ricki Lake comes Weed the People , an in-depth documentary on medical marijuana. In this film, Lake and director Abby Epstein looked to shine a light on the vitality of medical marijuana, exploring the life-saving qualities of cannabis and profiling a number of families facing life-or-death situations.

In an exclusive interview with Cannabis & Tech Today , Epstein described the inspiration for the film: “The inspiration … was a little bit unorthodox because we didn’t really set out to make a film about medical marijuana …. [Ricki Lake and her husband] got very involved in helping a little girl who was suffering and undergoing chemo and had a disease where she had tumors all over her body. They were researching alternative and integrative therapies for this little girl … and they came across cannabis oil … and the anti-tumoral effect that’s been studies, and so that really launched the film. They were really trying to help this little girl and, through that, open the door to this world of medicine and trying to figure out why nobody knows about this.”

It’s safe to say, if you’re looking for an introduction to medical marijuana, Weed the People provides a comprehensive overview that will tell you all you need to know.

Watch Weed the People on Netflix Now!

Grass is Greener

In this Netflix exclusive documentary, hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy takes viewers on a journey through America’s complicated relationship, starting with the popularity of the substance among jazz musicians. Along with Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, and Damian Marley, Grass is Greener takes a look at the racially biased history of the war on cannabis and the plant’s influence on music and culture.

Grass is Greener provides a balanced look at cannabis, considering both legislative issues and pop culture phenomena, and is one of the latest documentaries to dive into cannabis.

Watch Grass is Greener on Netflix Now!

A NORML Life

At this point, you’ve learned a lot about the history of cannabis, now you can learn about the people who have been working diligently to bring cannabis legalization to North America. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is a grassroots organization first founded in the 70s with the intention of promoting and lobbying for cannabis legalization.

A NORML Life focuses on the medical aspect of legalization and highlights how it happened in Washington, D.C. The film also gives extra details as to what exactly cannabis is made of and how those compounds interact with our bodies, specifically our endocannabinoid system. A NORML Life provides a scientific, as well as legislative, look at cannabis, for those who want a more technical information about the plant.

Watch A NORML Life on Amazon Prime Now!

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

The filmmakers behind The Culture High first made The Union: The Business Behind Getting High . What makes this film unique from the others is its business-focused content. Looking at growth, sale, and trafficking of cannabis, The Union examines the underground market by interviewing growers, police officers, criminologists, psychologists, economists, doctors, politicians, and pop culture icons, revealing how the industry was growing despite its illegality.

The film likens cannabis prohibition to the prohibition of alcohol of the 1920s and answers a variety of questions about cannabis. The Union provides a unique look at how the illicit market of cannabis operated before states began to legalize the plant.

Watch The Union: The Business Behind Getting High on YouTube!

Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis

At this point, you still may have questions about the science behind cannabis. Lucky for you, so did Montana lawmakers. In the backdrop of Montana grappling with its medical marijuana laws, debate ensued. Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis set out to do exactly what it sounds like, address the science behind medical marijuana.

Clearing the Smoke dives into how the plant’s chemical compound interacts with the brain and body to potentially treat a myriad of conditions and diseases. Utilizing personal stories as well as legitimate research done by scientists across the nation, this documentary fills a vital role the cannabis conversation, providing a much-needed look into cannabis medical science.

Watch Clear the Smoke on YouTube!

Super High Me

Likely one of the most famous cannabis documentaries out there, Super High Me was a revolutionary parody of Super Size Me . For the film, comedian Doug Benson avoids cannabis for a cleansing period before smoking or consuming cannabis every day for 30 days in a row.

Within both the 30-day cleansing and the 30-day cannabis periods, Benson underwent a variety of tests to gauge his physical and mental health. A variety of findings were surprising and others were inconsequential. However, at the time, it was vital to the cannabis industry to have a documentary hit the mainstream in the way Super High Me did.

If you’re looking to learn more about the wide world of cannabis, here are seven cannabis documentaries that you have to watch!