Canadian Cannabis

2014, Drugs  -  43 min Leave a Comment
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Vice's episodic documentary Canadian Cannabis examines the impact of a recently updated medical marijuana law on Canadians suffering from a variety of ailments. Reporter Damian Abraham, himself a user of medicinal marijuana, explores the topic by visiting grow operations and dispensaries. In addition to touring these facilities he enjoys casual but enlightening chats with professional cultivators, legal experts, and patients.

The Canadian medical marijuana legislation, first enacted about fifteen years ago, allowed users to either grow their own weed, purchase it from an independent licensed provider (LP), or purchase it through an LP contracted by Health Canada. Changes introduced in April, 2014 hindered sales through independent LPs, in turn enabling the increasing corporatization of Canada's medical marijuana industry.

In the first installment Abraham delights in touring two Ontario-based production facilities, where luscious green plants populate pristine and spacious grow rooms. While both the quality and quantities of the crops being produced are jaw-droppingly impressive, the devastation to many patients as a result of the new law becomes evident throughout the series. Through conversations with lawyer John Conroy and activist Jodie Emery it is convincingly argued that the industrialization of medicinal marijuana creates undue difficulties for patients who were once safely medicating under the previous legislation.

In Episode 2 Abraham checks out Jim's Weeds, a dispensary in Vancouver, where he enjoys the spoils of a legal weed lounge while learning more about the use of medicinal marijuana by senior citizens and children. Specializing in edible and smoke-free forms of consumption such as drinks and baked goods, Jim's aims to provide products that are safe for patients at all stages of life.

The final episode most directly illustrates the ways in which patients have suffered as a result of the new medical marijuana program. Abraham speaks to a man living with multiple sclerosis, another with HIV, and a couple whose young baby relies on cannabinoid extract to manage a seizure disorder. Together their stories present a compelling case for the benefits of medical marijuana and the importance of safe, legal access to it. A captivating, humorous, and informative series, Canadian Cannabis successfully humanizes the issue of medical marijuana.