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.
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.
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.
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.
7 Cannabis Documentaries You Should Watch
Sunday May 3, 2020
I n the past 10 years, jurisdictions the world over have shifted their policies on cannabis. A plant that was once looked upon as extremely dangerous with no medical value is now being prescribed by doctors around the globe. In 2020, it seems like the majority of people you speak to are in favor of the legalization of cannabis.
How did public and professional opinion on cannabis shift so drastically in such a short time? Part of the answer is thanks to the media, and specifically documentary filmmakers. The following influential films not only spread the truth about cannabis, but managed to win the hearts and minds of voters to create lasting change. While we’re dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and spending lots of time quarantined indoors, it’s a good time to check out some of the top cannabis documentaries.
1. CNN’s Weed
CNN’s Weed, a project first embarked upon by chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, was incredibly impactful due to its reach and its timing. Weed, which first aired in 2013, was one of very few cannabis documentaries to ever air on a primetime news network.
In Weed, Gupta tells stories of patients who changed his mind on the medical value of cannabis. The most touching story was of a young girl in Colorado, Charlotte, who was saved from Dravet Syndrome by cannabis-derived CBD treatments – Charlotte has sadly passed away recently, but her legacy will live on forever in the cannabis movement.
The year after Weed was released, Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use. Charlotte’s story has been mentioned in the texts of CBD laws across the country. In 2018, the Farm Bill federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD.
In the two years following, CNN released Weed 2 and Weed 3, extending the documentary series to 3 hours in total. The sequels look at America’s changing cannabis laws and the budding medical cannabis industry.
2. Super High Me
Created by comedian Doug Benson, 2007’s Super High Me, was released before many of the recent changes to US cannabis legislation took place. At the time, the general public largely still thought cannabis to be detrimental or even dangerous, especially when consumed every day.
Benson set out to prove them wrong in Super High Me. Following the formula of the 2004 fast-food documentary Super Size Me, he spent a “cleansing period” detoxing from any cannabis. He then consumed cannabis every day for a month. His results helped to disprove some common perceptions of cannabis, especially his improved SAT test scores during his “high” period.
Grass is a 1999 film which uses archival footage to illustrate cannabis’ history of illegality. The research for Grass was based on the work of respected cannabis historians like Jack Herer. First airing at the Toronto Film Festival, Grass enjoyed a wider reach than earlier media on the topic of cannabis history.
Grass was released only 3 years after California passed prop 215, the first medical cannabis law in the US. During a time of shifting public opinion on cannabis, Grass showed a wide audience that the history of cannabis illegality was driven by racism and propaganda. In doing so, the film lent credence to activist groups working hard for legalization at the turn of the millennium.
4. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
The Union, a 2007 multi-award-winning documentary is arguably one of the most information-packed pieces written on cannabis to date. The film stars Joe Rogan and Tommy Chong and focuses on Canada’s then-illegal, multi-billion dollar cannabis industry.
The Union follows cannabis producers, police officers, criminologists, economists, doctors, politicians and pop culture figures to examine how Canada’s illegal industry is able to thrive. The film also examines the Canadian black market cannabis industry’s impact on American cannabis legislation and enforcement.
5. The Culture High
Brett Harvey, award-winning director of The Union, returned in 2014 with The Culture High, which takes an expository look at contemporary cannabis prohibition in the US. The Culture High talks to celebrities, law enforcement, activists and experts to look at their arguments and motivation for opposing the US’ current cannabis laws. It also explores the impact of the ongoing War on Drugs on the daily lives of citizens, and looks at the effort and money being poured in changing cannabis legislation.
Like The Union, The Culture High was released at international film festivals and garnered multiple awards. Its 2014 release date coincided with Colorado passing the US’ first recreational cannabis laws and gave further motivation to cannabis activists working to push further legalization.
6. Weed the People
In 2018’s Weed the People, critically acclaimed director Abby Epstein focuses on the use of cannabis as a treatment for cancer. Epstein documents the cannabis journey of several children with cancer and their families. The film shows both the miraculous successes and tragic disappointments, as well as the family’s fight against mean-spirited laws.
Epstein meets with caregivers who are pressing ahead with cannabis as a cancer treatment and features interviews with oncologists who support the use of cannabis. Weed the People offers a smart, emotional, and hopeful look at the ongoing medical cannabis debate. The 2018 documentary is one of the most recent documentaries on cannabis and features the most-up to date information of our recommendations. It serves as a reminder that the fight is not yet won, and pushes the activists of the next decade to continue the good fight.
7. Clearing the Smoke
Montana PBS’ 2011 documentary Clearing the Smoke steers clear of the social and political debate surrounding cannabis. Instead, the film centers on the value of cannabis as a medicine and the science behind its effects.
Clearing the Smoke prominently features Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist, Harvard professor, and lifelong medical cannabis advocate. Grinspoon is widely considered the world’s leading medical cannabis scientist, and enjoys the rare honor among scientists of having a cannabis strain named after him.
Exploring the topic via interviews with patients, doctors, advocates, and opponents, the film provides a nuanced and balanced snapshot of the state of cannabis medical science in 2011.
Cannabis Documentaries are Plentiful
There are many great documentaries out there on the topic of cannabis; too many to include them all in our recommendations. An influential documentary takes more than just a good argument and research. Storytelling is key to winning your audience over, and timing is key to making a wider-reaching difference.
Cannabis documentaries are being made more frequently in the past 15 years because the public is more receptive to their message. Many feel that federal legalization of cannabis is just around the corner. The quicker the truth can be spread to a wider audience, the faster change will come.
Have you seen a cannabis documentary that opened your eyes or changed your life? Tell us about it in the comments!
Cannabis reform has progressed substantially over the years, thanks in part to some enlightening documentaries that made it into popular culture. Check out these 7 documentaries that are worth the watch.