Looking for something to stream this weekend? Check out "Rolling Papers," a new cannabis documentary that debuted on Friday (Feb. 19). The film - directed by Mitch Dickman - tells the story of the writers for The Cannabist as they grappled with the challenge of covering the first year of legal recreational marijuana sales in Denver.
The film attempts to capture a moment in time rather than hammer you over the head with political messages:
"I think old school docs make a point, then spend 90 minutes trying to get you to prove it or make you believe it," Dickman told Civilized. "We're not trying to say whether it should be legal or not: what we do have is this moment in which journalism is trying to reinvent itself, and at the same time as legalization is happening, which has never happened before."
If you already caught "Rolling Papers" and are craving more marijuana infotainment, check out these other great weed documentaries:
1. The Culture High (2014)
From the makers of "The Union" (see below), "The Culture High" delves into the politics and history of prohibition to expose the corruption, misinformation and and financial interests behind American society's fight to keep cannabis illegal. As Snoop Dogg says in the film, "It's not rational or logical; it's financial."
It's available to stream (for a fee) on Vimeo and iTunes.
2. The Weed Trilogy (2013, 2014, 2015)
For this CNN documentary, famous neurosurgeon and journalist Sanjay Gupta traveled the world to explore how marijuana is used medically and recreationally. He chatted with people who use cannabis as part of their lifestyle, or as a lifeline - including patients with Dravet's syndrome - a condition causing hundreds of seizures per week, which gained international attention due to the case of child patient Charlotte Figi, the namesake of Charlotte's Web CBD extract, who suffer hundreds of seizures per week. The documentary also examines the potential health effects for recreational cannabis users.
The thought-provoking documentary proved so popular that Gupta released two follow-ups: Weed 2: Cannabis Madness in 2014 and Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution in 2015.The sequel focused more on the struggles faced by medical patients using a federally prohibited substance as medicine, while "Weed 3" featured attempts to legalize medicinal cannabis.
You can watch the first part free on youtube, courtesy of Nat Geo Wild's channel (though no Monster Fish were interviewed):
3. Hempsters: Plant the Seed (2010)
No discussion of cannabis is complete without touching on marijuana's non-psychedelic but highly industrious cousin, hemp. Although hemp does not get you high, it is federally prohibited in America (though many states have legalized it), and it is tightly regulated in Canada. Director Michael Henning's "Hempsters" follows activists - including Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson and Ralph Nader - as they fight to change hearts and minds toward hemp.
Check it out on iTunes.
4. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007)
Brett Harvey's "The Union" takes an unflinching look at the business of marijuana - on both sides of the law. The film investigates those invested in keeping marijuana illegal as well as those profiting off the black market in Canada and America. The doc features interviews with growers, law enforcers, economists, doctors, politicians and celebrities such as Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.
Check it out on vimeo or iTunes.
5. Grass (2000)
As far as cannabis documentaries go, "Grass" is the landmark film that helped get people talking seriously (but also lightheartedly) about marijuana. Although the film's somewhat dated now - given legalization movements in America and Canada - it's amusing yet incisive look on the history and culture of prohibition in America offers a relevant overview of the basis (or lack thereof) for cannabis prohibition.
Check it out Netflix or iTunes.