This film looks at the last 100 years of marijuana use, culture, and legislation, compiled from 400 hours of archival footage. Narrated by the celebrity weed aficionado Woody Harrelson, whose very name in the credits will ensure a laugh from audiences.
"This film explores the history of the American government's official policy on marijuana in the 20th century. Rising with nativist xenophobia with Mexican immigration and their taste for smoking marijuana, we see the establishment of a wrong headed federal drug policy as a crime issue as opposed to a public health approach. Fuelled by prejudice, hysterical propaganda and political opportunism undeterred by voices of reason on the subject, we follow the story of a costly and futile crusade against a substance with questionable ill effects that has damaged basic civil liberties."
- Kenneth Chisholm
"The history of marijuana in the United States since its unofficial introduction in the early twentieth century is presented. As a product, it has been a focus of a strong government campaign to rids its distribution and use, primarily from the 1930's to the 1970's. Harry J. Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and President Richard Nixon were the chief persons waging the war. During the early battle, marijuana was popularly thought to cause a slew of maladies, including temporary insanity and murderous tendencies, as depicted through such movies as Marihuana (1936/I) aka "Reefer Madness". This popular belief led to marijuana being effectively classified an illegal substance in the United States in 1937. When some of these myths were debunked, especially through the free-wheeling 1960's, anti-marijuana messaging turned to it being a gateway substance to stronger more dangerous illicit drugs, such as heroin. As much of the marijuana coming into the United States since the 1950's was from China, the government also used anti-Communist messaging. Both Anslinger and Nixon quashed any scientific reports that came out refuting the government's claims, such as a report commissioned by New York Mayor 'Fiorello Laguardia' . To the end of the century, America's war on marijuana has cost the government several billions of dollars."
"Most of my films celebrate popular culture, underground artists, marginal artists," says Mann.
"They bring them to a mainstream audience. This film brings an underground issue forward, but it's motivated by a desire to do what's right. That's very different. That makes the film political. I was surprised at the reaction to the political content. I think people do respond to the wastefulness of the American war on marijuana ... especially the cost. There is a political point being made more overtly political than anything I've ever done ... and it's summed up by Woody Harrelson saying the American anti-marijuana campaign has been misguided and totally ineffective."
The political nature of drug laws and anti-drug campaigns, incidentally, was underlined by a story in The Globe and Mail the week before the screening of Grass at the Toronto International Film Festival. The story detailed how Mexico's economy was harmed by being designated as soft on drugs, an idea spearheaded by the United States ... the kind of moral and political chicanery Grass exposes.
One of the funniest movies on the American history of Marijuana !
For some more laughs ... Here is 'Reefer Madness' ... :D ...
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