Friday, June 21, 2024

The Best Weed Documentaries To Stream

Want some educational engagement over the holidays? Look no further than these weed documentaries that exhibit the bigger picture of the complicated relationship between the U.S. and cannabis.

Part of the process of becoming a conscious stoner is to be aware of how the 2010s were a decade of enormous victories for the free marijuana movement worldwide. This is especially true in the U.S., the biggest sponsor of the War on Drugs in the 20th century. To understand this victory, we must understand the social cost it took to get us where we are now, even though the fight isn’t over. Here are the best weed documentaries to stream!

These 10 show the bigger picture of the complicated relationship between the U.S. and cannabis. Every aspect of the impacts of marijuana on social life is approached in these documentaries.

HBO Partners Up With Cannabis Companies To Promote New TV Series
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1. Grass Is Greener (2019)

  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 1h 37min
  • IMDb: 7.1/10
  • Director: Fab 5 Freddie
  • Stars: B-Real, Steven Hager, Damian Marley, Snoop Dogg
  • Where to watch: Netflix

Available on Netflix, Grass is Greener is a masterpiece directed by Fab 5 Freddy, about the origins of marijuana in the U.S. and the contradictions developed from there. It reveals the American history of cannabis through legends like Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Snoop Dogg, and many others. It’s a celebration of the greatness of marijuana’s legacy to jazz, hip hop, and World music. Put your headphones on because music is a critical element of this documentary.

The film also examines the war on drugs. Marijuana’s prohibition was a critical component in the oppression of people of color, women, and anti-war movements throughout the 20th century. It reveals the injustices made under the name of prohibition until today and how  ‘reefer madness’ took the U.S. by storm.

2. Rolling Papers (2015)

  • Year: 2015
  • Duration: 1h 19 min
  • IMDb – 6.2/10
  • Director: Mitch Dickman
  • Stars: Whoopi Goldberg (archive), Ricardo Baca, Ryan Clendenin
  • Where to watch: Netflix

Directed by Mitch Dickman, Rolling Papers covers The Denver Post and their innovative stance of creating a cannabis journalism section under the leadership of Ricardo Baca. This documentary reveals how a shrinking journalism economic niche is turning its fortunes around with the force of the free marijuana movement.

This documentary explores the  journalists’ personal life, reflecting on polarized themes such as parenting and cannabis, and the lingering preconceptions about the war on drugs.

So get your Netflix account ready because Rolling Papers is a must-watch, and not only to cannabis enthusiasts. It shows the myriad opportunities for cannabis businesses. Also, enjoy the brilliantly edited cut scenes of marijuana strains.

3. Weed the People (2018)

  • Year: 2018
  • Duration: 1h 34 min
  • IMDb – 7.1/10
  • Director: Abby Epstein
  • Stars: Amanda Reiman, Donald Abrams, Bonni Goldstein
  • Where to watch: Netflix

Winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary in 2018’s Nashville Film Festival, Weed the People is a heartfelt documentary available on Netflix about American families and cannabis.

Directed by Abby Epstein, Weed the People looks at cancer patients and their families’ fight against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and anti-marijuana legislation. The film examines American’s prohibitionist scientific tendencies in the war on drugs and the more advanced international studies on cannabis and cancer research.

movie popcorn
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

4. The Culture High (2015)

  • Year: 2015
  • Duration: 2h
  • IMDb – 8.2/10
  • Director: Brett Harvey
  • Stars: Joe Rogan, Snoop Dogg, Ronald Reagan (archive)
  • Where to watch: Amazon

The Culture High is a spectacular documentary directed by Brett Harvey in 2014. The film won Best Documentary at the 2015 AMPIA Awards and multiple award nominations at international film festivals. 

Available on Vimeo, The Culture High tackles the disinformation and hypocritical prohibitionist discourse that was mass advertised in the 20th century. The documentary demystifies the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia, addiction, lung damage, existential angst, and other aspects of human sociability. 

5. High Country: The Future of Weed (2013)

  • Year: 2013
  • Duration: 44 min
  • IMDb – not rated
  • Director: VICE Motherboard
  •  Where to watch: Youtube

Vice takes the steering wheel with the 2013 short documentary High Country: The Future of Weed. It took place after decades of discrimination and negation of marijuana’s value to the people when many U.S. states started a legalization process of marijuana that contemplated recreational use. Vice Motherboard arrives in Colorado, the first regulated, taxed, and legal cannabis market, to investigate the booming growth of cannabis-related businesses.

RELATED: 3 Reasons Why Hollywood Stopped Making Stoner Comedies

Available on YouTube, the documentary features professional cannabis growers and details a cultivation model that doesn’t waste any of the plants during the production processes, utilizing everything from the leaves to the flowers without any loss of cannabis value.

Then, it focuses on the booming cannabis tech market,  the numerous ways that cannabis can be worked on from seed to consumption, and the jobs it can create. This documentary will convince you that there is no telling how far the cannabis industry can go.

6. WEED: A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (2013)

  • Year: 2013
  • Duration: 3 parts 43 min each
  • IMDb – not rated
  • Director: CNN
  • Stars: Sanjay Gupta
  • Where to watch: Youtube 

“WEED – A CNN Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta” is a full-length documentary series aired by CNN in 2013. It reflects the change of perception in the U.S. media about marijuana. The series portrays the war on drugs propaganda as a general misconception developed by the first Drug Czar in the U.S., the former Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger. It theorizes that Anslinger opportunistically turned marijuana into the #1 Public Enemy to gain political capital and increase his department’s budget.

CNN takes a surprising and progressive approach regarding cannabis. Available on multiple sources on the web, it critiques the poor handling of U.S. marijuana policies throughout the decades. 

7. Weediquette (2016)

  • Year: 2016
  • Duration: 3 seasons
  • IMDb – 8.1/10
  • Director: VICE media
  • Stars: Krishna Andavolu, Jason Cranford, Catherine Lewis
  • Where to watch: Viceland TV

Weediquette is an unfinished Viceland TV documentary series starring Krishna Andavolu and his quest to discover the fortune of science, culture, medicine, and economics that the cannabis boom provides.

The project is not officially over, but altogether, Viceland and Krishna released 24 episodes in 2016 and 2017, touching many social aspects impacted by cannabis and the war on drugs. The topics are varied, and it approaches myths and facts about war veteran’s use of cannabis to treat PTSD, autism treatment, driving under the influence of marijuana, deportation, parenting and many more controversial topics.

Weediquette serves as an ode to marijuana and its applications and has almost an encyclopedic value to the cannabis world given the high quality of information, state-of-the-art video editing and writing.

8. Grass

  • Year: 1999
  • Duration: 1h 07min
  • IMDb: 7.2/10
  • Director: Ron Mann
  • Stars: Woody Harrelson, Harry J. Anslinger, George Bush
  • Awards: Genie Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary
  • Where to watch: Vimeo

This documentary explores the history of marijuana in the US throughout the 20th century, giving us valuable insight into what made America so fearful of marijuana and how that fear impacted society and the economy. The film tackles critical issues such as xenophobia against Mexican immigrants, who have been associated with marijuana use for decades, federal laws and strict penalties, social stigma, and the consequences of recreational cannabis use.

RELATED: The Best Weed TV Shows You Should Be Watching

This documentary is 22 years old now, and many things have changed, including the perception of marijuana in modern American society. Still, many issues described in this film remain relevant to this day. The main reason behind a negative attitude towards weed is propaganda, old and rusty movies such as Tell Your Children (1936) that describe weed as a drug that provokes murderous tendencies and a gateway drug that leads to severe addictions. Grass dismantles those myths and gives us a retrospective view of society’s attitude towards marijuana. More than 20 years later, we have a slightly different picture in front of us, so we can look even deeper into the past and see what has changed and where we are headed.

9. Breaking Habits

  • Year: 2019
  • Duration: 1h 27min
  • IMDb: 6.5/10
  • Director: Robert Ryan
  • Stars: Sister Kate
  • Where to watch: iTunes

Well, this is something you don’t see every day: a group of nuns comes up with an idea to grow their own weed and sell it to people in California Valley. The documentary describes how Sister Kate, a business-savvy woman from California, came up with the idea of helping people in pain by giving them a natural and healthy remedy – cannabis. Sister Kate formed a group of activists and decided to sell weed in the area. The film describes her struggles with the local anti-weed activists and the positive and negative sides of the business.

This documentary is narrowly focused on a single group of people who happen to sell marijuana in California, almost as if the movie was advertising their product. Well, let’s be real here, the film is a giant commercial for the Sisters of the Valley, and at times, it feels like a drama show. Did you see the Tiger King? Well, dial it down a lot, change the tigers for weed and gun-toting rednecks for weed-selling nuns, and you’ll get the general idea of what is going on there. Some scandals, some shooting, some police raids – it feels fun and entertaining. Though the documentary is not that insightful or revealing as you might want it to be, it still is a fun plot.

10. A NORML Life

  • Year: 2011
  • Duration: 1h
  • IMDb: 6.7/10
  • Director: Rod Pitman
  • Stars: Russ Belville, Dominic Corva, Tonya Davis
  • Where to watch: Vimeo

A NORML Life is a documentary from 2011 that illustrates the situation with cannabis legalization in the US at the time of release. The movie is based on numerous interviews with people involved with cannabis in one way or another – doctors, growers, users, scientists, and so on. All of these people talk about the positive effects of marijuana. The evidence is overwhelming; from the personal accounts to the actual scientific data, everything points at the simple fact – marijuana can produce a hugely positive impact on people’s health and has almost no side effects when consumed moderately.

The movie is a bit outdated, considering how the situation has changed over the past decade. However, it still offers a great deal of information and brings valuable ideas to the viewer’s mind. Once again, we have a chance to get a retrospective view of weed in our society and have a more complete picture of the direction we are moving in.

Fortunately, things have changed for the better over the past decade in terms of weed legalization, and this documentary lets us see how we’ve grown since then. It is a highly informative documentary that can give you a more profound understanding of how weed works and how it can benefit us personally and socially.


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