The history of the American government's war on marijuana in the 20th century.



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Credited cast:
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry J. Anslinger ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Anthony 'Man' Stoner (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Fiorello LaGuardia ...
Himself (archive footage)
Timothy Leary ...
Himself (archive footage)


This film explores the history of the American government's official policy on marijuana in the 20th century. Rising with 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. Fueled 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 debatable ill effects that has damaged basic civil liberties. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

14 July 2000 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Erva  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$21,578 (USA) (2 June 2000)


$313,039 (USA) (15 September 2000)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Ontario Censor Board wanted to remove some 1960s footage of some lab monkeys forced to smoke dope as it depicted animal cruelty. See more »


["Prohibition cannot be enforced for the simple reason that the majority of the American people do not want it enforced and are resisting its enforcement. That being so, the orderly thing to do under our form of government is to abolish a law that cannot be enforced, a law which the people of the country do not want enforced."]
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Crazy Credits

No hippies were harmed in the making of this movie. See more »


Features Confidential File (1953) See more »


I Want to Take You Higher
Written by Sly Stone
Performed by Sly and the Family Stone
Courtesy of Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Co. and Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
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User Reviews

Pot 101
16 December 2002 | by (Taichung, Taiwan) – See all my reviews

Nice that they got Harrelson for the narration (not to mention some of the Firesign guys, etc.).

Perhaps a little *too* boffo at times, but nonetheless a wonderful compendium of pot Americana crafted, accrued, and organized to drive home an important point; what on God's green earth drives this monumental institutional fuss over a weed?

I will look at anything Paul Mavrides (Art Direction) puts his hand to; he's such a monster, gob bless 'im!

For some reason, I'm driven to make a very generic point about this genre of film by highlighting the "inscrutability" of the subject matter. In my mind, "Grass" is in the same category as unexplained phenomena, religion, conspiracies, suppressed inventions, etc. I call it "topic candy", as it pushes the mind to attempt to objectivize the subjective in a fun and frolicsome way. Again: What, after all, *are* the underlying mental/spiritual/social attitudes that fuel marijuana scares, and a kind of concentrated paternalism that makes state socialism look like mom 'n' pop free enterprise by comparison? And attempts by films like "Grass" to attack these kinds of topics is a high-risk game. When you tackle a subject which is, after all, a mental state, you risk appearing irrationally predisposed, but at the same time stand the chance of turning over a rock somewhere in our collective consciousness to find something that is true and illuminating. Which leads to the questions: Does "Grass" take these risks? Yes. Do these risks pay off in "Grass"? My answer: A qualified "maybe". Whether "Grass" succeeds or not isn't as important to me as the fact that it takes those risks. That's really how I feel. And, maybe, that willingness to put things out "on the line" is a kind of success in itself.

If you are a fan of edgy sonics and graphics and have an interest in U.S. anti-drug hysteria, take the time to watch this film. It'll teach you a *few* things you may not have known before. And its highlighting of the mounting national expense for the drug war (fiscal and social) *will* give you serious pause....

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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