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Kick back, relax, and nourish your mind with some enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving cannabis industry–from past injustice to future hope. Featuring a roster of world-renowned medical cannabis experts—from Steve DeAngelo to Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D.—the film starts streaming on August 25. All of us have a lot more time on our hands to spend indoors at the moment, so what better reason to sit down, put ya feet up and settle in for some great cannabis documentaries.

LabCanna’s 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.

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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!

‘Facts Can Save Lives:’ 10 Powerful Takeaways From New Documentary ‘CBD Nation’

Behind the scenes of ‘CBD Nation’ with Andrew DeAngelo (right), co-founder of Harborside, the first . [+] cannabis company to introduce CBD to epileptic children in 2011.

Courtesy Mad Machine Films

Only in recent years has CBD made its way into mainstream vernacular and consequently, cannabidiol’s story has never fully been told on-screen. Buzzword status was reached in 2018—the same the year National CBD Day (August 8) was recognized by the registrar at National Day Calendar. The soon-to-be-streaming documentary, CBD Nation, is the first wide-release film dedicated to the cannabis plant compound’s deep roots.

Featuring leading experts in cannabis and medicine, including Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli scientist who discovered THC, the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to treat medical conditions—the 83-minute film exposes 60 years of often ignored published reports and ongoing research.

The project turned its director, producer and editor David Jakubovic from a CBD cynic to a CBD champion. Creative director at Mad Machine Films, Jakubovic got his start at the age of 18, during mandatory military service in the Israeli Air Force, when he was assigned to make training films. Jakubovic’s recent credits include a World War II special for National Geographic and History Channel’s series Washington.

CBD Nation is distributed by Gravitas Ventures and starts streaming on August 25 on Amazon Video, . [+] iTunes and other VOD platforms.

Courtesy Mad Machine Film

“When I was asked if I wanted to make a documentary about the science of medical cannabis, my initial reaction was, ‘No.’ I didn’t know anything about it and my instinct was that CBD was an overblown fad,” admits Jakubovic. “Worse, I didn’t feel like spending a year living in a world surrounded by cannabis users. I had tried cannabis at 22, and the experience was just so intense that I stayed away from the plant for another 13 years.”

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He changed his mind after watching a TED Talk from Dr. Dedi Meiri, a biologist who runs the world’s leading cannabis lab at Technion University in Israel. Based in New York City, Jakubovic started shooting CBD Nation two years ago, first traveling back to his homeland for interviews.

With interviews also spanning the U.S. and Canada, more than 30 physicians, clinicians, scientists and patients explain how the human body has evolved to work with cannabis, providing not only healing, but also hope for the world’s most politicized plant to be accepted for what it is: medicine.

Among the many powerful personal stories CBD Nation tells is Rylie Maedler’s. At age seven, she was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease, which in her case, caused tumors to eat away at her facial bones. Today, the 14-year-old remains the only known person in the world with the condition whose bones have regenerated.

Rylie and Janie Maedler outside of Delaware Legislative Hall.

Courtesy Mad Machine Films

“I hope that doctors, educators and politicians see this film,” says Maedler, who worked closely with legislators in her home state of Delaware to pass Rylie’s Law, 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.”

In celebration of success stories like Maedler’s and National CBD Day, here are 10 of the most powerful takeaways revealed in CBD Nation, available on Amazon, iTunes and VOD on August 25:

David Jakubovic, producer & director, CBD Nation

“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. And in the U.S., which accounts for 5% of the world’s population; it consumes 75% of the world’s pharmaceuticals. We can no longer afford to be in the dark about the facts. Facts can save lives.”

Dr. Reggie Gaudino, VP of R&D, Front Range Biosciences (formerly Chief Science Officer, Steep Hill).

Courtesy Mad Machine Films

Dr. Reggie Gaudino, VP of R&D, Front Range Biosciences (formerly Chief Science Officer, Steep Hill)

“Almost all organisms that come out of the water have an endocannabinoid system, and they’re related. If there’s a receptor for [cannabis], there must be something inside humans that triggers the receptor. The endocannabinoid system’s job is to maintain the balance of all the other systems, right? So you have a bunch of other systems that do their thing, and the endocannabinoid system sits on top of all of them and makes sure that they don’t go out of control. I think we are going to see an increasing number of people who start to take responsibility for their own health and become present in their own well-being.”

Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., president of the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“We published our findings 37 years ago: cannabidiol blocks epileptic attacks in patients. What happened? Nothing for 30 years. 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.”

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Dr. June Chin, osteopathic physician

“There is a galaxy of these cannabinoid receptors throughout our entire body. The endocannabinoid system parallels the immune system, so there really is no physiological process in our body that’s not affected by [it] to some degree. What cannabis serves as is a very natural and potent anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever. Healthcare practitioners really need to educate themselves on the endocannabinoid system and on medical cannabis very quickly.”

David Jakubovic, producer and director of CBD Nation.

Courtesy Mad Machine Films

David Jakubovic, producer & director, CBD Nation

“In 1976, the National Institute on Drug Abuse published a 250-page report, which discussed the medical uses of cannabis. It stated that the potential benefits of cannabis should be studied. It discussed its therapeutic effects as an anticonvulsant, an antidepressant and an antibacterial. The report referred to cannabis as reducing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, treating glaucoma, asthma and pain. It stated that significant pain reduction was seen in cancer patients, and it even discussed cannabis as helping reduce tumor sizes.”

Martin A Lee, director, Project CBD & author, Smoke Signals

“There’s also the Shafer Commission. Same conclusion. They’re always coming out with these federal reports. It’s crazy, it’s like what does it mean? People are coming forward, saying it helps my multiple sclerosis, helps my depression, helps my kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, neurological, autoimmune disorders, diabetes. So many things people were reporting. If you have a government, why don’t you pay attention to what it figures out? You know, it makes no sense. But the whole marijuana policy has not made any sense. It was always built on lies. And we still suffer from that as a culture, as a society, as a world.”

David Jakubovic, producer & director, CBD Nation

“The Shafer Commission was appointed by President Nixon, and its report stated that ‘a careful search of the literature and testimony of the nation’s health officials has not revealed a single human fatality in the United States proven to have resulted solely from the ingestion of marijuana’ and that ‘most users, young and old, demonstrate an average or above-average degree of social functioning, academic achievement, and job performance.’”

Leonard Leinow, cannabis grower & breeder

“I’m one of the first people that started growing CBD-rich cannabis that I know of. I’m actually a pioneer in that movement because I’m one of the people that said, ‘Hey, CBD is really important.’ In the seventies, eighties and nineties most of the industry and the breeders had been dominated by people who like to get high. So, the direction that the breeders went was who can make the highest THC plant that’s gonna knock your brains out. So, the growers, they bred out the CBD.”

Steve DeAngelo, co-founder, Harborside & Steep Hill

Courtesy Mad Machine Films

Steve DeAngelo, co-founder, Harborside & Steep Hill

“We didn’t start Harborside with the idea of creating a business or making money, that wasn’t our main objective. We had a greater mission: to tell the world the truth about cannabis. I called every single commercial testing laboratory in the Bay Area and asked them to test our cannabis. Because if I was going to call it medicine, if I was going to provide it to people who have compromised immune systems, I needed to know exactly what was in it, I needed to know that it was safe. Every one refused to test our medicine out of fear of federal prosecution. So we started Steep Hill. There was low CBD content in the supply, really of California’s entire cannabis market. It seemed like a crisis to us. We started to [question] how do we get more of this compound into the plant? We went back to the growers who had supplied us and encouraged them to grow more of it.”

Dr. Sue Sisley, internal medicine specialist & medical cannabis activist

“I had this huge faction of patients in my practice who were claiming they were getting benefit from this plant, and I was very skeptical. I was basically dismissive of these claims because I thought they were just drug-seeking stoners, that’s what I’d been taught in medical school. And then I began losing a lot of veterans in my practice to suicide and that was when I had this real epiphany that all these lousy pharmaceuticals are not helping them. There’s tons of meds that I prescribe to patients that make them high, right? Pain pills, benzodiazepines like Xanax—all of them have the potential to cause euphoria—and we don’t condemn those pills, but yet when it comes to this natural God-given plant we vilify it, we treat it like it’s so dangerous, like it’s plutonium, when in fact it’s far safer than most of the prescriptions I write for people every day. I started to finally examine the scientific literature, and I regretted how judgmental I was over these past many years because I probably could have saved more lives.”

The 10 Best Cannabis Documentaries

All of us have a lot more time on our hands to spend indoors at the moment, so what better reason to sit down, put ya feet up and settle in for some great cannabis documentaries. We take you through our top 10 best cannabis documentaries (in no particular order) that are must-see viewing for both the aficionado and newbie alike. Get the popcorn ready!

1. Super High Me (2007)

Directed by Michael Blieden and starring stand-up comedian Doug Benson, Super High Me is a parody on the hit documentary “Super-Size Me” (2004). The film stays faithful to the original as Benson consumes cannabis non-stop for 30 days and takes various tests to check the effects on his body and mental wellbeing. Before the experiment, Benson abstained from cannabis for one month, which allowed him to compare the month of abstinence with the month of daily use. A light-hearted and comedic view on the topic of cannabis and the effects it may have on the human body and mind.

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2. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007)

Directed by Brett Harvey, this truly informative film gives a comprehensive background on the prohibition of cannabis. The documentary uncovers why the government resists the legalisation of the plant, and the degree to which they benefit from the pharmaceutical companies. While now perhaps a little dated, it exemplifies the spectrum of views and benefits that cannabis offers people from different backgrounds and social status. Truly one of the most eye-opening cannabis documentaries to date and must-see viewing for those new to the industry!

3. Grass – The History of Marijuana (1999)

Directed by Ron Mann and narrated by noted cannabis advocate and actor Woody Harrelson, this film is another good introduction to cannabis that offers an in-depth historical perspective on the plant and its use. Demonstrating to significant effect, how badly cannabis was portrayed through deliberate and systematic propaganda and the war on drugs, the film opens with a series of comically outdated anti-drug reels to drive the message home.

Striking just the right balance between informative and entertaining, this is another must-see trip through some of the darkest days of cannabis prohibition.

4. Cannabis: A Lost History (2018)

Director Chris Rice takes the viewer through the ancient past of the plant, spanning from ancient China through to the present day. The documentary Cannabis: A Lost History delves into critical historical events surrounding our favourite plant.

Traditional use of the herb by various religions and cultures is explored, as well as how cannabis travelled from one place to another and the politics encircling the plant in the present day. The documentary has a homemade feel while still giving you lots of insightful information about the history of cannabis in human cultures. What becomes apparent is that the cannabis and human stories are heavily intertwined!

5. Kings of Cannabis (2013)

This Vice documentary is free to catch on YouTube and explores the lengths to which “strain hunters” (those who search the globe for rare strains of cannabis in remote locations) will go to secure the next award-winning gene line.

Vice follows Arjan Roskam who has built a cannabis empire with his Green House Seed Company, as he travels in Columbia looking for rare and previously undiscovered types of cannabis. This documentary focuses more on the commercial side of the cannabis industry, and the lengths these pioneers will go to secure the next cash crop.

6. A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana (2017)

Award-winning journalist Helen Kapalos explores the subject of medical cannabis uncovering life-changing treatments and cutting-edge research. Produced and shot in Australia, the film sets out to provide clarity and understanding of one of Australia’s most stigmatised and controversial issues – Medical cannabis.

The film was borne out of a TV network news story which told of a young man’s difficult decision to consume cannabis as a treatment for a terminal illness and to help with debilitating nausea and side effects of chemotherapy. The fact the young man’s father served for decades as a drug squad police chief adds an interesting wrinkle to the already emotive film. After the film had gone to air, it sparked thousands of other Australians to come forward and tell their story around their own experience with medical cannabis, both legal and through the black market.

7. Green Light (2019)

Another home-grown documentary directed by Ned Donohoe, Green Light introduces audiences to Nicholas Morley and his associate Luke, who spend their time openly breaking the law to supply medicinal cannabis oil to chronic and terminally ill patients around Australia.

The pair work as medicinal cannabis suppliers for patients who have tried “everything else”, operating outside the legal framework that governs the medical cannabis industry in Australia. In the film, they supply and treat a man with a genetic bone disease, a baby with cancer and even a fully-grown horse. They stress they are not medical professionals, and all prospective clients should speak to their doctor before using the cannabis oil they’re supplied with.

8. The Culture High (2015)

Directed by Brett Harvey, this film is start studded with some very well-known cannabis advocates such as Snoop-dog, Wiz Khalifa, Richard Branson and Joe Rogan. Not just relying on insights from these pop culture icons, the documentary uses expert opinion to provide balance to the issue and questions the arguments of the legalisation opponents as their true motives are uncovered. A lot of information to unpack in the film, but with the star-studded cast and a healthy mix of humour, this is one not to be missed!

9. Weed the People (2018)

Directed by Abby Epstein, this film centres around the medical cannabis industry and the barriers to access for both adults and sick children. Epstein engages with a community of people in the United States who struggle with the need to try medical cannabis for their child’s cancer and their government’s inability to allow for reasonably priced and available medical marijuana.

The film takes aim on the government’s stubbornness in allowing researchers to study the therapeutic applications for the plant, and the fight to reschedule the drug from its Schedule 1 status. A powerful and at times, very emotional look into the world of severely sick children, and their parents’ quest to find them comfort.

10. High as Mike (2019)

Written and directed by Peter Cross, Daniel Raffaele and Craig Wilson, this Australian documentary follows the story of Mike, who has a brain tumour. It’s a type of tumour that won’t kill him but will rob him of his eyesight.

With the current issues with prescription cannabis in Australia, Mike sets off on a road trip to find out if medicinal cannabis can treat his tumour. ​Travelling around the country in search of answers, Mike chats with patients that have already embarked on their own life-changing therapeutic cannabis journey. He also speaks with politicians, a former Australian Federal Police commissioner, a lawyer, a neurosurgeon, doctors and suppliers of medicinal marijuana, including one that is facing an 18-year prison sentence for cannabis-related crimes.

Want to find out more about medicinal CBD or speak to a doctor who can discuss your options? Drop us a line on 1300 402 420 or email [email protected]

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