Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Documentary Binge - Part 2: Cannabis

Onward! I have developed an interest in the drug culture as of late. I don't use any illegal substances, but I think that the culture and the things people go through enjoying and producing them are absolutely fascinating. Recently, I've watched three documentaries on marijuana,  Marijuana Inc., Standing Silent Nation, and The Green Rush. Along with the article about the Emerald Triangle in Rolling Stone a few issues ago, these opened my eyes to the many aspects of marijuana and it's production and prohibition.

The Green Rush

I watched The Green Rush and it was very interesting. It's inspiring to see the American Dream exemplified in this story of marijuana growers in North California. These farmers go through the same experiences that "legitimate" farmers go through, and more. They have to deal with the federal government and the DEA of course, but that's in addition to the usual destructive insects, animals, irrigation design and thieves. The documentary is incredibly insightful and these farmers stand as a stark counter-point to the selfish "smash-and-grab" tactics of other growers who grow about 5,000 plants of marijuana and then get busted by the feds because they have essentially grown a vineyard of weed. I don't want to give the ending away, but it's truly a shocker. I highly (excuse the pun) recommend this documentary.

These are sustainable farmers who grow what they can maintain and live on. Quite a different character from the greedy drug creators that we are taught to hate.






Marijuana Inc.

This CNBC-produced documentary attempts to show both sides of the story. It centers on the Emerald Triangle, a region of California that is very active in marijuana cultivation and sale. In fact, according to the documentary at least 2/3rds of Mendocino County's economy is from the sale of marijuana. The documentary focuses on the economic aspects as well as the residual crime aspects of marijuana. Pretty interesting as far as the big picture is concerned, but not as personal as The Green Rush.



Standing Silent Nation

This is by far one of the most paining documentaries I've seen in a long time. Standing Silent Nation tells the story of the Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota that attempted to grow industrialized hemp, believing that tribal sovereignty protected them, only to have the DEA come in and chop down their hard-earned crop. Now, it is important to note that industrialized hemp is cannabis without psychoactive chemicals, so you cannot get high by smoking hemp. This film illustrates at the same time a battle for reform of law and tribal sovereignty. Highly suggested for anyone who believes in freedom.

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