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Netflix Documentary Argues that Cannabis can Save Lives

By Roland Sebestyén

How far would you go for a child who’s suffering from a very aggressive type of brain cancer? What would you do if doctors told you he roughly had eight months to live? Netflix’s critically acclaimed documentary, Weed the People is following desperate families who are running out of time and have no choice but to turn to alternative options. The new Netflix documentary follows the stories of families who have turned to medical cannabis.

“Is [cannabis] a medicine? It’s been medicine for thousands of years. It only hasn’t been medicine in [the US] for 70 years.”

During the documentary’s 97-minute running time, which is full of disturbing and infuriating quotes, this, above, takes the cake.

In the US, the use of medicinal cannabis was accepted and widely acknowledged for its benefits among doctors.

However, The Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 was a prohibition law out of fear regarding the recreational use of cannabis. Cannabis had been used as a treatment for many conditions, including neuralgia, alcoholism, opiate addiction, and even snakebite.

Although the bill aimed to prohibit any kind of non-medical usage, it also had a big impact on the medical use of the drug. Regardless of The American Medical Association’s argument about the lack of available substitutes, cannabis was removed from the United States Pharmacopeia.

In a nutshell, this is why people in the US have been denied treatment that might have had an impact on their wellbeing; treatment that might have had, in several cases, saved their lives.

Even though, in 2020, there are 33 states where medical use of cannabis is legal, the industry still has to fight against prejudice and preconception.

Weed the People was brave enough to break the stigma and ask the questions others hadn’t before.

Is cannabis an anti-cancer agent?

Sophie Ryan was just a baby when doctors diagnosed her with Optic Pathway Glioma. That is an extremely serious brain tumour that forms around the optic nerve. The tumour, in some cases, can cause blindness.

Sophie’s parents were adamant that they didn’t want her to get chemotherapy, so they were after an alternative treatment.

Her mother, Tracy Ryan, was against cannabis. However, they chose to give it a try:

“Literally 1,000 stars had to align for us to finally change our minds on cannabis. That was the only thing we just completely dismissed and refused to research because we thought it was so ridiculous.”

This is how they found Mara Gordon, the founder of Aunt Zelda’s Inc. The Ryans eventually chose to go along although they knew Ms. Gordon didn’t have medical training.

Although experts and researchers are still in the dark about cannabis as there is not enough thorough research available, some claim that cannabis’ beneficial effects are extraordinary.

Amanda Reiman, a drug policy expert, said:

“People have been using cannabis as a medicine for 5,000 years.

She continued: “THC has always been the star of the show because it’s the most psychoactive. But then research started showing that there were a lot of other cannabinoids in the plant that had as many, if not more, therapeutic effects.”

Furthermore, many researchers believe that cannabis is reducing problems with opioids and other pharmaceuticals. Opioid addiction and overdose can be a real danger during cancer treatment.

The bad news, however, is although the first evidence that cannabis may have anti-cancer activity came from the National Cancer Institute in 1974, experts claim those lines of investigation somehow disappeared.

It’s a vicious cycle that remains as long as cannabis is classed as a Schedule I drug in the US. Schedule I means research and trials are restricted by the law.

Although in 33 US states the use of medicinal cannabis is legal, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reaffirmed its position and refused to remove Schedule I classification.

Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, said:

“It seems to be so important that a group at NIH published a review and said that the endocannabinoid system is involved in essentially all human diseases. The cannabis plant compounds called cannabinoids work at those receptors.”

Mark Ware, MD, Pain Medicine, and Neurology added: “When you take cannabinoid in from outside by smoking or vaporising or eating or pharmaceutical, you are somehow tinkering with that system and adjusting the way in which those nerves and muscles and communication happen.”

But somehow the attitude towards cannabis is changing too slowly. In this respect, Weed the People aims to also show the other side of the argument.

The directors were able to find the right balance. As there is still an awful lot of dark spots, it was important to display that cannabis, on its own, might not be able to treat cancer.

The movie’s most moving bits were when Sophie’s doctor called in to tell her parents that she would need chemo straight away – regardless of continuing with the cannabis treatment.

According to the end credit, fortunately, both Sophie and another child, who was given traditional and cannabis treatment, will likely be able to live a healthy life.

On the other hand, the medical cannabis documentary also shows another young child who had been given eight months to live. He was getting traditional treatment and medicinal cannabis but sadly passed away.

As long as meaningful research into the potential of medical cannabis is restricted, families, doctors, and medical experts will remain in the dark.

Netflix’s critically acclaimed documentary, Weed the People is following desperate families who are turning to alternative treatments like cannabis.

8 Must-Watch Cannabis Documentaries On Netflix

Published : May 16, 2019

Not sure what to watch tonight? Why not make it a weed-themed documentary? Netflix has a whole host of shows and films that cover the cannabis industry from a variety of angles. Keep reading to discover seven of the best documentaries the streaming platform has to offer.

LOVE WEED? NETFLIX HAS YOU COVERED

Netflix-and-chill takes on whole new meaning thanks to the streaming platform’s growing volume of weed-focussed documentaries. If you’ve ever wanted to discover the origins of 420, find out the potential of medical cannabis, or explore the darker side of marijuana cultivation, now is your chance! Line up a few carefully rolled blunts and get comfy, because there is a fantastic range of shows on Netflix that cater to virtually all tastes.

Below you will find a selection of some of the best offerings, and while they are not everything Netflix has in its catalogue, they do cover a broad range of topics. However, depending on where you live, different shows may be available. If you cannot find one of the documentaries listed, type “cannabis” in the search bar on Netflix to find out what your region does have available.

8 OF THE BEST CANNABIS DOCUMENTARY FILMS AND SERIES

WEED THE PEOPLE

Weed the People is a documentary that brings the issue of cannabis legality centre stage. Following the lives of several different children, we are shown how, in certain cases, cannabis has truly been life-saving. The power of this documentary lies in its use of real people living through unthinkable circumstances—circumstances made easier by the medicinal value of cannabis. While the footage is intended to provoke a strong emotional response toward cannabis prohibition, the documentary delivers a simple message—more research is desperately needed. It is a message that is not only supported by the families documented, but by the doctors and experts involved.

GRASS IS GREENER

In recent years, cannabis legalization has spread throughout the United States. Marijuana hasn’t always been so widely excepted, and Grass Is Greener takes an objective look at the history of cannabis prohibition and its lasting effects. It is no secret that marijuana convictions disproportionately affect minority communities, specifically young black men, but this is something those outside of the US may not be aware of.

Grass Is Greener helps shed light on America’s complicated relationship with cannabis while using celebrity guests to help explain the situation. Not only do you get to learn more about the rise of cannabis culture, but you get to hear how the plant has affected names like Snoop Dogg, Damian Marley, and Cypress Hill.

EXPLAINED: WEED

The Explained series on Netflix is an attempt by Vox Media to answer questions you’ve always wanted answering. Topics include why we get tattoos, whether we use too many exclamation marks (really. ), and most importantly, the history of cannabis. Only twenty minutes long, the “Weed” episode is excellent for those who want a bite-sized update on all things cannabis. Learn where cannabis strains come from, how the hemp plant has evolved over the centuries, and how cannabinoids work—all on your commute to work.

SUPER HIGH ME

If you ever watched the documentary Super Size Me way back in 2004, then you’ll be familiar with the format of Super High Me. This time, however, there is a slight difference. Instead of consuming only junk food, the comedian Doug Benson smokes weed for 30 days straight before taking a range of tests to see how he was affected. Although technically a spoiler, Doug is still very much alive and well, so at least we know that 30 days of weed doesn’t kill you. To find out what does happen to your body, make sure you add Super High Me to your watch list.

INSIDE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Inside Medical Marijuana is National Geographic’s take on the world of legal marijuana. Throughout the 45-minute special, they take a look at the science behind cannabis and detail some of the lives affected by its use. The documentary also presents a compelling argument of old versus new. There are those who have dedicated their lives to the advocacy of medical marijuana, but there are also individuals who see the legalization of cannabis as a great money-making opportunity.

While it is too early to tell how legal marijuana will play out, Inside Medical Marijuana does an excellent job of setting the scene for what the cannabis industry might look like in the future.

THE LEGEND OF 420

“420” has become the international reference for all things cannabis-related, not just among stoners, but mainstream media too. The Legend of 420 aims to give viewers an all-encompassing overview of marijuana right from its initial legalization in the American state of California to its current applications on a global scale.

Interestingly, it also tries to present both sides of the argument for and against legalization, although it doesn’t take long to see that the arguments against are grounded in a significant amount of misinformation. The Legend of 420 is an ideal film for those who know very little about cannabis, as it gives a complete overview of the topic. Even if you do know your OG Kush from your Sour Diesel, the doc still has plenty to offer.

MURDER MOUNTAIN

Presenting a side of cannabis cultivation many of us don’t think about, Murder Mountain is a series that highlights the growing number of missing people in the cannabis capital of America, Humboldt County. The Emerald Triangle is a haven for large-scale cannabis operations, and as the show suggests, potentially something more sinister.

It is important to point out that while there is plenty of factual substance to Murder Mountain, the show is heavily edited to be as dramatic as possible. There is no doubt that cannabis has become big business with a lot of money at stake, but whether it is as sinister as the show depicts—well that’s for you to decide.

ROLLING PAPERS

Canada’s decision to legalize all forms of cannabis has changed the world forever. Not just for Canadians, but big businesses too. Rolling Papers follows a struggling newspaper as it decides to dedicate a column to the cannabis community. Like Murder Mountain, the documentary has a hefty amount of editing and special effects, which, while entertaining, do at times detract from the documentary’s main premise. Rolling Papers does highlight an issue that is still prevalent no matter where you are in the world—cannabis is still a highly controversial topic, despite how far it has come.

Follow the link for eight of the best cannabis documentaries currently on streaming platform Netflix. You'll be surprised how much attitudes have changed. ]]>