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Through the Smoky Lens: Must-Watch Cannabis Documentaries

Through the Smoky Lens: Must-Watch Cannabis Documentaries

As cannabis laws liberalize worldwide, a growing catalog of documentaries offers windows into the plant's complicated history. Filmmakers tackle the science, business, culture, and politics of cannabis from revelatory vantage points.

Let’s explore must-see docs every enthusiast should spark up. Watch these to educate yourself, or if you just want to cozy up and get blazed.

Cannabis Documentaries – Top 10 Picks

Here are 10 of the best cannabis documentaries ever created:

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

IMDb: ⭐️ 8.2/10

Directed by Brett Harvey, The Union offers an in-depth exposé of the underground cannabis industry in British Columbia. Adam Scorgie’s narration guides viewers through indoor grow ops, distribution networks, money trails, and more. The team candidly interviews traffickers, law enforcement, and policy experts.

What emerges is a sobering look at the failures of prohibition. Archival footage and data analysis reveal the staggering costs to taxpayers while organized crime profits soar. The documentary builds an irrefutable case for the legalization and regulation of the massive market demand.

Where to watch

Weed the People

IMDb: ⭐️ 7.3/10

Executive-produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein, Weed the People follows several children battling cancer with a focus on cannabis treatments. The documentary captures their intense chemotherapy regimens juxtaposed with cannabis oil, bringing relief.

Interwoven are interviews with doctors and researchers discussing findings on cannabis slowing tumor growth. However, bureaucracies still block access to clinical trials. The film puts faces to the suffering caused by medical cannabis stigmas. Their journeys will challenge assumptions.

Where to watch

The Culture High

IMDb: ⭐️ 8.2/10

In The Culture High, narrator Joe Rogan guides viewers through a searing indictment of the War on Drugs. Directors Brett Harvey and Michael D. Allman expose its racist origins stemming from 1930s propaganda against Mexican immigrants.

Later, the Nixon administration weaponized drug laws to disrupt Black and hippie activist groups. The documentary conveys how these prejudices cemented cannabis as a tool for oppression. Interviews underline the damage inflicted on communities of color. But it ultimately strikes a hopeful chord as reform gains momentum worldwide.

Where to watch

Grass is Greener

IMDb: ⭐️ 7.1/10

In this Netflix Original, hip hop icon Fab 5 Freddy examines cannabis culture's deep roots in music and media. The host traces its influence from jazz, reggae and rock to blockbuster films like Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke. Interviews with Snoop Dogg, Dre and cypress Hill explore weed-fueled creativity.

But the documentary also probes the racist propaganda behind criminalization. Experts break down how the War on Drugs intentionally targeted communities of color and the devastating impacts still felt. Grass is Greener strikes a skillful balance celebrating cannabis while spotlighting social justice reform still needed.

Where to watch

Super High Me

IMDb: ⭐️ 6.0/10

In Super-Size Me fashion, comedian Doug Benson documents the effects of heavy cannabis use on his health. He consumes weed every waking hour for 30 days straight, submitting to tests during and after. What unfolds is equal parts comedy and science.

While noting some side effects like weight gain and distractibility, Benson remains productive, and his physician finds minimal health impacts. By mirroring alarmist anti-drug PSAs, Super High Me mocks knee-jerk fears of cannabis abuse and the hypocrisy of legal drugs like alcohol.

Where to watch

Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis

IMDb: ⭐️ n/a

Directed by Montana PBS producer Anna Rau, Clearing the Smoke offers an in-depth scientific perspective on cannabis. The documentary examines its pharmacology and the endocannabinoid system through which compounds interact with the body.

Doctors and researchers analyze results from studies on medical applications, including pain, nausea, epilepsy, and more. While acknowledging limitations from legal barriers to research, the film makes a compelling case for cannabis potential while demystifying the clinical picture.

Where to watch


IMDb: ⭐️ 7.2/10

Director Ron Mann chronicles the US government’s reefer madness campaign to vilify and prohibit cannabis in the 1930s. Woody Harrelson’s narration guides the story with charm. Interviews with advocates and politicians reveal the thin evidence and racist motives behind criminalization.

Ultimately, it conveys the unreasonable, ineffective, and harmful impacts of enforcement still playing out today. But the film closes on a hopeful note - that truth and reform may finally overcome ignorance and oppression.

Where to watch

Breaking the Taboo

IMDb: ⭐️ 7.6/10

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Breaking the Taboo slams the utter failure of the War on Drugs. Filmmaker Cosmo Feilding Mellen travels the world chronicling how criminalization fuels violence, empowers cartels, drives mass incarceration, and bleeds public money.

Interviews underline these same resources could expand treatment and harm reduction. The documentary makes clear prohibition does nothing to curb drug use. Instead, it ruins lives, destroys communities, and corrodes democracy. The call for decriminalization has never sounded more reasonable.

Where to watch

Magic Medicine

IMDb: ⭐️ 7.1/10

While focused squarely on psychedelics, the 2018 documentary Magic Medicine also holds relevance for the cannabis legalization conversation. Filmmakers and physicians explore substances like LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca through the lens of indigenous plant medicines. Interviews underline their therapeutic potential for mental health amidst the opioid epidemic. 

The parallels to cannabis are clear - a misunderstood plant with promising medical applications and the need to shift policy from criminalization towards compassionate care. Magic Medicine makes the case for destigmatizing and clinically researching illegal plants that could offer healing.

Where to watch

The Legend of 420

IMDb: ⭐️ 6.7/10

This 2017 comedic documentary from director Peter Spirer livens up the origin story behind the cannabis holiday. While accounts differ on the exact genesis, most signs point to a group of California teens who would gather to smoke at 4:20 pm in the 1970s. The ritual spread and became code for cannabis consumption. 

This unofficial “national holiday” has ballooned into massive public events and celebrations of cannabis culture. Alongside the laughs, The Legend of 420 also charts the long road to legalization. Interviews highlight the incremental reform that built momentum state by state. As legal markets keep expanding, 4/20 looks to lose its outlaw reputation and enter the mainstream.

Where to watch

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These standout cannabis documentaries entertain while casting light from diverse angles. They probe the science, culture, and politics - both good and bad. Some make viewers laugh, while others incite tears and outrage. But all expand perspective on this complex plant.

While you're here, don't forget to check out our cannabis themed clothing options, exclusively for sale on Mongolife.

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