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

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.)

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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.

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).

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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.”

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.”

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Netflix Documentary Argues that Cannabis can Save Lives

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.

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