7.3/10
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28 user 51 critic

Grass (1999)

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

Director:

Ron Mann

Writer:

Solomon Vesta

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Cast

Credited cast:
Woody Harrelson ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry J. Anslinger Harry J. Anslinger ... Himself (archive footage)
George Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
Cab Calloway ... Himself (archive footage)
Jimmy Carter ... Himself (archive footage)
Chevy Chase ... Himself (archive footage)
Tommy Chong ... Anthony 'Man' Stoner (archive footage)
Dwight D. Eisenhower ... Himself (archive footage)
Gerald Ford ... Himself (archive footage)
Jerry Garcia ... Himself (archive footage)
Allen Ginsberg ... Himself (archive footage)
John F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage)
Gene Krupa ... Himself (archive footage)
Fiorello LaGuardia Fiorello LaGuardia ... Himself (archive footage)
Timothy Leary ... Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

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 <kchishol@home.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 July 2000 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Erva See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,578, 4 June 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$313,039, 17 September 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sphinx Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

["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 »

Connections

Features Drug Addiction (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Itchycoo Park
Performed by the Small Faces
Written by Steve Marriott (as Steven Marriott) & Ronnie Lane
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd
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User Reviews

Pot 101
16 December 2002 | by rzajacSee 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....


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