Listen to our interview with Weed the People co-producer Abbie Epstein here.
Sometimes a film leaves you with the single question: Why?
Why does our government deny children (and the rest of us) access to a non-toxic, life-saving medicine? It’s tragically stupid and sad, and Weed the People, a new documentary from Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, shows us the human cost of our backward cannabis policies.
We all know that cannabis has been prohibited for public consumption for the past 80 years. What’s come to light through laboratory studies over the past few decades is that cannabis has bona fide anti-cancer properties — in addition to many other medicinal benefits. The catch 22, for a society that practices profits-over-patients western medicine, is that there are not yet clinical trials on humans to prove the efficacy of cannabis; and those studies will never progress as long as cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.
It's about helping kids with cancer. Why should that ever be illegal?
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence in this film and elsewhere that cannabis can help fight cancer, and ease the nasty side effects of toxic chemotherapy. Despite these accounts, concentrated cannabis is still not widely available, nor is there a medical infrastructure for administering it. Thus Weed the People’s five touching vignettes: In each, the parents of a child afflicted with a deadly cancer make the desperate decision to procure medicinal marijuana in an effort to keep their child alive.
Spoiler alert: Most of the kids make it, primarily due to the efforts of the saintly Mara Gordon, who has brought her experience as a process engineer to the task of providing the most effective cannabis-based medicines to pediatric patients. Co-founder of non-profit cannabis oil provider Aunt Zelda's, Gordon recounts her diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, and her subsequent discovery that cannabis was the most effective medicine for that condition. This led to further exploration, the discovery that no one was thinking about how to dose with cannabis, and embarking on her eventual mission to “give people hope, and create medicinal cannabis-
Bad laws that result in children suffering make no sense
If the goal of making a documentary film is to illuminate the nonsensical, Weed the People succeeds. In 97 minutes, you’ll experience the real human cost of a dysfunctional national drug policy, and probably ask yourself how we let profit-driven pharmaceutical companies take the wheel of our our healthcare system. It’s infuriating, and if you have a compassionate bone in your body, galvanizing. Action is required.
With screenings happening through January in select cities, Weed the People is scheduled for DVD and digital release in March 2019. It deserves to be seen widely, by Jeff Sessions types and everyone else. While there has been a wave of legalization through the states, and federal decriminalization may be coming, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Weed the People is a call to action
Getting people to accept a whole new paradigm of plant-based healing won't be a easy. But Weed the People is a good start. Ultimately it leaves us in a hopeful, helpful place. It's a compelling call to action against a nonsensical policy that results in needless suffering in the most helpless among us. If that's not enough to move us to change our outmoded drug laws, I don't know what is.