Netflix’s 2018 documentary “Weed the People” has the power to stir a number of emotions: sadness, anger, and joy leap immediately to mind. The spell it cast on me wasn’t apparent until its final moments, when my eyes welled up with tears resulting from a combination of all three aforementioned emotions. Because when the subject of a documentary is children battling and/or suffering from cancer, well…you know. As you might guess, these children (or rather their parents) are using or attempting to use cannabis as a treatment for the various conditions.

So, let’s work through some of these emotions.

Sadness? Well, there’s precious little sadder than a child suffering from cancer. The kids here run the gamut of conditions and ages. They’re rarely documentary subjects unto themselves; that falls mostly on the parents and their struggles. The children are typically far too ill or even far too young to be proper subjects. Further, not every child makes it out of this documentary alive. Joy? Those that do make it – which are most of them – appear to be thriving in the doc’s final moments. Anger? Well, let me introduce you to a couple of entities standing in the way of these kids’ lives, liberties and pursuits of happiness: the U.S. government and its old pal Big Pharma.

There’s a brilliant moment in “Weed the People” in which a woman is looking through a medical textbook published in 1805(!), and there’s an entire section on marijuana and the many beneficial uses of the plant – even the root! It’s eye-opening, because so few people are still alive that can recall a time in which cannabis was a plant that’s uses were recognized by the majority of the medical community. It has been so thoroughly demonized over the past 70-80 years that very few remember a time when it was not.

Given recent events in this country, spurred on by decades of campaigning from what should here on out be referred to as the forced birth crowd, a documentary like “Weed the People” goes to show how little our government actually cares for children. If they cared as much as they purport to, cannabis at the very least on the medical level would be legalized, codified, and protected.

But the ugly truth is that this has not happened because Big Pharma, along with the United States government, has not yet figured out a way to become the sole regulators and distributors of cannabis…and we should all fear the day that they do. For these two institutions, will profits always trump livelihoods? “Weed the People” does a fine job of indicting both for the roles they have played and continue to play in the deaths of people whose lives could very well be saved by cannabis.

Sadly, I’ve allowed my anger and frustration to dominate this review. At its core, “Weed the People” is about, as its title implies, people and their struggles. While I cannot know what it is like to be a parent of a child with cancer, I grew annoyed by numerous testimonials from parents raving about the “miraculous” effects cannabis had on their children. Herein lies another problem: the plant has been so criminalized and demonized in this country that most people cannot even conceive of its potential healing power. We need to get to a point where cannabis is not viewed by folks as some kind of miracle drug or cure, but rather an accepted medical solution or treatment for a host of ailments, including the Big C. That will start with legalization on a federal level. Your move, President Biden and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“Weed the People” is currently streaming on Netflix.


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