Top 5 Cannabis Documentaries to Watch During Quarantine
If you’re anything like us, you’re starting to feel a little stir-crazy during this period of isolation. Instead of binging more brain candy (we promise we’re not judging), why not take this opportunity to unearth a little more information on our favorite subject–cannabis? These five documentaries are excellent platforms to learn about the history, cultural impact, and legal journey of this powerful, yet incredibly stigmatized plant. So kick back, relax, and nourish your mind with some enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving cannabis industry–from past injustice to future hope.
Trying to figure our if cannabis is right for you? Learn the science behind our endocannabinoid system, or how terpenes can impact your experience.
CBD Nation (2020)
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and iTunes – this incredible documentary features the world’s leading cannabis experts, and highlights the powerful stories of many patients who took control of their own medical journeys.
American Hemp: Amazon Prime
American Hemp, a documentary directed by Josh Hyde, follows the growth and development of a hemp food company (Evo Hemp), focusing on the day to day business side of growing, processing, and selling hemp and hemp products. Evo Hemp is successful in introducing hemp as a main food source to Americans, with their products being picked up at well-known grocery chains and participating in major trade shows. However, the industrial hemp industry isn’t an easy one to navigate, from destroyed “hot” hemp crops (a.k.a. crops which contain too much THC), to ignorance about the legality of the plant, resulting in aggravating shipping and logistical issues.
This film also chronicles Evo Hemp’s transition into the CBD industry, partnering with Alex White Plume of Oglala Lakota–the first Native American hemp farmer in the US to produce hemp extract products. This film was released in 2019, following the 2018 Farm Bill, amid the explosion of CBD products on the market. It is incredibly informative, showing the process of creating CBD and hemp products while documenting the issues hemp farmers and companies continue to face in this evolving market.
American Hemp (the Evolution Continues): Amazon Prime
This four part documentary from Josh Hyde continues in the path of American Hemp, delving further into the business side of cannabis and the future of hemp production. The first episode introduces UnCanny Wellness, a water soluble CBD producer in Boulder, Colorado. Alex Corren, the founder and owner, is intensely involved in every element of the business. The focus of this episode profiles how he created his water soluble powder and how Alex outsources and automates the process to oversee each step of the process while maintaining a tiny team of two.
This small, yet mighty business is in stark contrast to the following three episodes which focus on Oglala Lakota and its owner, Alex White Plume. Alex tells of his struggles surviving as an American Indian in South Dakota, the abuse suffered by the Native American people during their fight for civil rights, and his personal story as a pioneer in the hemp farming industry. While continuing to face generations of economic difficulties and inequity, the Lakota remain committed to growing and celebrating this plant, with the hopeful message that hemp will change the world.
This follow up to American Hemp is incredibly stirring, highlighting the many injustices placed on the American Indian people and the stark contrast between the evolving commercial cannabis industry and small, family-owned hemp farms.
Grass is Greener: Netflix
This Netflix documentary, directed by Fab 5 Freddy, hip-hop pioneer and cannabis advocate, explores the brutal history of the demonization of cannabis in America and how it was used as a political tool and device for racial oppression throughout the past decade of our history. The film begins by exploring the intersecting relationship between jazz, African-American culture, and cannabis to show how these three components influenced the creative lifestyle and production of revolutionary art for the next sixty years. Continuing with the beat poets who promoted the view that art is the product of an altered mindset and that cannabis encourages the freedom of expression, marijuana eventually became a permanent fixture within the hippie counterculture movement, resulting in continued oppression from the government and further restrictions to stop dissent and control the civil rights movement. The film asserts that this legal restriction and cultural stigma continues to hold back growth and progress within minority communities, polarizing the current legal industry.
As cannabis moves from illicit drug to mainstream craze, this film asks us to keep our eyes open to the glaring racial disparities between the small businesses within minority communities and the polished and thriving corporations honing in on the growing cannabis market.
Emperor of Hemp: Amazon Prime / YouTube
This 1999 documentary explores the life of Jack Herer, well-known cannabis activist and the author of “the official hemp bible,” The Emperor Wears No Clothes. The film, narrated by Peter Coyote, tells the story of how Jack became known as the “Emperor of Hemp,” beginning from his roots as a conservative, straight-laced army vet to head shop owner, followed by his 1984 revelation that “hemp could actually save the world” and subsequent work to end marijuana prohibition.
This film chronicles the history of the stigma of cannabis in American culture, the abundance of uses for hemp in almost every industry, and the history behind the government’s suppression of cannabis throughout the 20th Century. Jack’s crusade to bring cannabis into the mainstream was invaluable to our current climate within the hemp industry. This intimate portrait is an inspiring and thought-provoking watch. (And the production of this film will instantly take you back to 1999.)
Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis: pbs.com
This PBS special explores the role of cannabis in modern medicine through the perspective of medical marijuana patients, doctors, and skeptics. It provides in-depth information on the science of the endocannabinoid system, discusses how cannabis has been used to effectively treat many drug-resistant symptoms and illnesses, and offers insight on the roadblocks research has faced due to the controversy and legality of cannabis during the past century. This film provides a very unique perspective, presenting both sides of the issue, from the critic who believes that medical marijuana use is just “smoking dope for medication” to the proponents of the plant who have used medical marijuana to regain their health and function within their daily lives. As cannabis continues to become a part of our mainstream culture, we look forward to future conversations on what has traditionally been ruled an academic dead-end in the field of scientific research.
Extra Credit – Hemp for Victory: Youtube
This educational film, referenced in Emperor of Hemp, was produced by the USDA in 1942, encouraging farmers to grow hemp during World War II to provide needed material for the Allies. After the war, the film disappeared for years, until Jack and his team of activists brought it back into awareness. This short film provides an informative tool to help modern-day Americans rediscover hemp’s promise, shedding the stigma of past defamation and revolutionizing the production of many of our necessities in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Have you watched any interesting documentaries on cannabis recently? Let us know what we should watch next in the comments below!
Kick back, relax, and nourish your mind with some enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving cannabis industry–from past injustice to future hope.
New Documentary Explores The Science Of Medical Cannabis
A new documentary slated for release later this month takes an in-depth look at the science behind cannabis as medicine, from the groundbreaking researchers who first discovered the curative power of cannabinoids to the pioneering patients whose lives have been transformed by the plant. The documentary from Mad Machine Films, CBD Nation, will be available in North America via multiple viewing platforms on August 25.
The film by director David Jakubovic features leaders of the medical cannabis movement, including scientists, patients, and activists such as Steve DeAngelo, the co-founder of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, the largest and one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in the country.
“CBD Nation brings you the real science that decades of U.S. government-sponsored misinformation have hidden from public view,” DeAngelo said in a press release for the documentary. “Watch it, and learn why cannabis may just be the most valuable medicine ever discovered by human beings.”
The film explores the work of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist who, with other scientists, was the first to isolate, describe, and synthesize delta-9 THC, and is widely considered the father of cannabinoid research. He notes that cannabis has been known to have medicinal properties for decades, but the development of the plant’s potential was greatly hindered until patients and families led the way.
“We published our findings thirty-seven years ago: cannabidiol (CBD) blocks epileptic attacks in patients. What happened? Nothing for thirty years,” said Mechoulam, who serves as the president of the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Nothing happened until desperate parents like those in this film did their own research and found out that cannabidiol can help children with epilepsy. But epilepsy is just one of many conditions that we know cannabis medicine can treat. If the world chooses to not look at all of the science, it is not ignorance—it’s negligence.”
Determined Patients Lead The Way
The film also follows the journeys of patients whose determination to access a medicine that makes them well when others can not have made them spokespeople for a movement. People like teenager Rylie Maedler, who at age 7 was diagnosed with a rare degenerative bone disease called aggressive giant cell granuloma that caused tumors that ate away at the bones of her face. Following treatment with CBD, she became the only person with the disease whose bones have regenerated.
“I hope that U.S. doctors, educators, and politicians see this film,” said Maedler, who worked closely with legislators in her home state of Delaware to pass Rylie’s Law, a measure granting children with qualifying conditions access to medical cannabis. “Because I’m living proof of the fact that cannabis and CBD have a place in modern medicine.”
Director Jakubovic said that creating CBD Nation forced him to confront the stigma that continues to be associated with cannabis, a stigma that only serves to obscure the true value of the plant.
“Over the course of this project, I came to realize that cannabis is far from a gateway drug; for many, it’s actually an exit drug from pharmaceuticals and narcotics,” said Jakubovic. “And in the U.S.—which has 5% of the world’s population consuming 75% of the world’s pharmaceuticals – we can no longer afford to be in the dark about the facts. Facts can save lives.”
CBD Nation will be available in North America from video-on-demand platforms and streaming services including Amazon and iTunes on August 25 through a distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures. A trailer for the documentary can be watched on YouTube.
"CBD Nation" shines a light on the science behind medical cannabis…and the people who depend on it.