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The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007)

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BC's illegal marijuana trade industry has evolved into a business giant, dubbed by some involved as 'The Union', Commanding upwards of $7 billion Canadian annually. With up to 85% of 'BC ... See full summary »


Brett Harvey
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Adam Scorgie ... Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chris Bennett Chris Bennett ... Himself - Author & Former 'Pot TV' Manager
Steve Bloom Steve Bloom ... Himself - Former Editor, High Times
Renee Bojee Renee Bojee ... Herself - Activist
Neil Boyd Neil Boyd ... Himself - Professor of Criminology, Simon Fraser University
George Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
George W. Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
Larry Campbell Larry Campbell ... Himself - Mayor of Vancouver, 2002-2005 (as Senator Larry Campbell)
Rielle Capler Rielle Capler ... Herself - Policy Analyst - BC Compassion Club Society
Tommy Chong ... Himself - Comedian
Jack A. Cole Jack A. Cole ... Himself - Director of LEAP and Former Undercover Narcotics Agent
John Conroy John Conroy ... Himself - Criminal Defense Lawyer
Greg Cooper Greg Cooper ... Himself - Multiple Sclerosis & Ataxia Sufferer
Stephen Easton Stephen Easton ... Himself - Professor of Economics, Simon Fraser University
Marc Emery Marc Emery ... Himself - Seed Retailer & Activist


BC's illegal marijuana trade industry has evolved into a business giant, dubbed by some involved as 'The Union', Commanding upwards of $7 billion Canadian annually. With up to 85% of 'BC Bud' being exported to the United States, the trade has become an international issue. Follow filmmaker Adam Scorgie as he demystifies the underground market and brings to light how an industry can function while remaining illegal. Through growers, police officers, criminologists, economists, doctors, politicians and pop culture icons, Scorgie examines the cause and effect nature of the business - an industry that may be profiting more by being illegal. Written by Brett Harvey

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Official Sites:

Official site | Official site





Release Date:

8 June 2007 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Союз See more »


Box Office


CAD 200,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Score G Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Jack A. Cole - Director of LEAP and Former Undercover Narcotics Agent: If you've been caught - a young person, who's had so much as one marijuana cigarette - you can't get a loan or grant from the government to go to college. If you've been convicted of murdering somebody or raping someone, no problem; you go right down, they give you the loan. I guess the message is: It's okay to rape, and murder and pillage, just don't smoke a joint afterwards.
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Features Hemp for Victory (1943) See more »


Original music by Jakob Simek
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User Reviews

When will the caring cease?
25 February 2013 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

Before watching this film, I considered myself politically neutral in the ongoing debate about the benefits and harmfulness of marijuana use. If it's legalized, whatever; I won't use it. If it's kept illegal, I'm not losing any sleep, I thought. One of the debates that becomes nudged into the foreground when discussing marijuana legalization is do laws making drugs illegal escalate the use of said drugs or decrease them? I believe they do. I know more people in my life that smoke marijuana than are bullied at school. I can say with almost complete confidence that marijuana and alcohol use are more of a problem than bullying at suburban high schools. Which brings me to my first question; can the two be helping each other?

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High opens with a four minute history of cannabis in America. We learn that cannabis, also called hemp or industrial hemp (the kind of hemp you can not get "high" from), was the largest crop in America up until around 1937. It was the most durable, robust fiber the world has ever known. It was used predominately in paper, medicine, fabrics, and lighting oil, and the very first marijuana/hemp law ever passed through legislation demanded farmers to use it for its commonality and reliability. Even the paper the Declaration of Independence is printed on is hemp paper; the kind of paper that, through centuries, does not yellow and does not destroy or lessen forest-count in the United States.

But back to the history of the plant. In the mid-1930's, something called "yellow journalism" began to take effect on the American people. It was right around the time World War II and the Holocaust began to come up, as well, so the form of persuading the public without much substance and factual evidence, also known as propaganda, became more apparent in the life of not only Germany and parts of Europe, but the United States as well. When the 1936, notoriously lampooned film Reefer Madness, a completely heavy-handed and preachy film used as a scare-tactic for teens and marijuana use, was released, the government began acting on the production and use of hemp. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act made it so using hemp would implement a heavy tax on farmers, to the point where other resources such as cotton were looked at as a substitute. Marijuana prices climbed, you needed a stamp to grow it - which the government wasn't giving out - and thus, by 1948, hemp and marijuana were illegal for almost no reason at all.

This brings us to the question of the legitimacy and the success of prohibition of drugs in the United States; does it really work or does it erect greater, more impenetrable problems? When alcohol was outlawed in the United States, speakeasies became more popular, organized crime by several names like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano were turning up everywhere, and the ability to sell alcohol for record prices was astronomical. If one were to do roughly fifteen minutes of genuine research on marijuana prohibition in the United States, the facts are there and the effects are similar. By closing something off to the public, you open a whole new world where crime and lawlessness can take place, and prices can be artificially inflated by the seller, who makes 100% profit on something you were too stupid to see the benefits in.

The Union boldly destroys most of the rumors about marijuana use, populated by the ignorant and uninformed, by using cold, hard facts. For example, the idea that marijuana kills brain cells or stunts them in any way is completely false. A study involving monkeys was conducted, where the monkeys ingested marijuana and not only was brain cell loss apparent, but death wasn't too far away either. Why was that? The monkeys wore gas masks and injected with a large amount of marijuana, that smoking several joints at a time wouldn't equate to, to the point where they died of suffocation.

The film also brings up the very rational argument of questioning the legality of tobacco/nicotine/alcohol products, substances that have proved to be addictive, lethal, and cancerous, but not marijuana. So, it just leads us to the question that if the U.S. government wants so badly to protect its citizens from doom and uncertain turmoil, why are they paying money to restrict a plant with proved health benefits, untold material benefits, and one that has shown to be relatively harmless compared to legal pharmaceuticals? The simple answer is marijuana's naturalism. Because the government has the pharmaceutical corporations in their back pocket, both institutions are well aware that the legalization of marijuana would lead to record-low profits and a lesser dependency on one of the most profitable divisions in history. Why pay astronomically high prices for ambiguous medicines with side effects quite possibly worse than what you have when there's a natural drug you can grow, without fear of legal trouble or persecution, for pennies on the dollar? The answer is simple and rational and that's exactly what the corporations and the government want to steer the American people away from.

Unfortunately, this will likely be a film that is standing inside an empty room with a high-auditory echo, with the only ones picking up its messages being those who do not need to hear old evidence and reiterated points for the umpteenth time. This is a film that will inevitably preach to the choir, the people its already had on its side. Those who need to seek this film out are the on-the-fencers, like I was, and those who have long been socially ignorant to the concept of marijuana, assuming its illegal status is for a justifiable reason.

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