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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A lot of the discussion about -Grass- both here and in the press has focused on what the film is not. It isn't a documentary about marijuana use, nor is it intended to be. Instead, it's a film about the history of the "war" on marijuana in the U.S.
Mann's films are done in a "high" visual style (no joke intended) that is very graphic-intensive. While this isn't to everyone's taste, it does cut through the otherwise heavy use of archival footage. The narration is incisive, but it is kept thankfully to a minimum. The result is a documentary that entertains and instructs.
I was somewhat disappointed that the film did not go on in any detail about the post-1980 period, where some of the most interesting battles have been fought. Other than that, -Grass- is an excellent summary of how the "drug war" in the U.S. came to be fought in the way that it is today.
I suppose my other disappointment is that the film focuses exclusively on the U.S.; I had hoped that a Canadian such as Ron Mann would have examined the equally interesting history of marijuana prohibition in Canada.
-Grass- is well worth a viewing, both for its visual appeal and its committed take on an interesting subject.
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