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!
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.