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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


With the exception of the animated chapter headings, this film is comprised entirely of archival footage, films, and videos. 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

After the credits there is one more black & white clip, of a man saying that if just one person is discouraged because of the film, it was worth their time making it. See more »


References Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) See more »


All the Jive is Gone
Performed by Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy
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User Reviews

Highly entertaining; moderately scholarly.
14 May 2005 | by (New Jersey, United States) – See all my reviews

I watched this right after completing a research paper on marijuana policy, and it was certainly a nice break after working entirely out of dry text. Much easier on the eyes than hundreds of pages of tiny type.

There certainly is a lot of stuff this movie left out, including some of the funnier things (such as the marijuana murder trials of 1938, or the 120-second Congressional hearings for the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act), but it definitely gets the point across in a colorful, often rather silly way complete with movie clips, weird songs, goofy video-game graphics, old-ranting-politician footage, and some of the more ludicrous public service announcements. The cultural bent makes it much less dry than most of the strictly historical, legal and political reading I've done, which is saying a bit as the legal history is pretty entertaining.

Just in case you somehow miss the point (or forget about it while watching Cab Calloway tap-dance), Grass makes a heavy point of repeatedly pointing out the escalating amounts of money spent on this unobtrusive little weed, and highlights the blatant lies the public has been subjected to over the past century by reiterating "The Truth" for every decade or so.

The only real downside to the movie is that it skipped over the disclaimer that every marijuana decriminalization piece really needs to have in it somewhere: There is no such thing as an entirely safe drug.

In conclusion, I would recommend this movie quite highly if you're looking to be introduced to the subject in a tolerably entertaining fashion, or if you're sick of reading and want something a little more audially/visually stimulating. For real information on the drug, however, I'd recommend reading "Marihuana: a Signal of Misunderstanding" instead.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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