People love marijuana for a lot of reasons — mainly because it makes you feel good. But another thing we love about weed is there is so much to learn. From the history behind the powerful plant to the nuances of the booming legal weed industry, medicinal applications, and philosophical conversations around the future of decriminalization, pot is one of the most compelling topics out there. Naturally, that means the subject makes for great marijuana documentaries. And thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, a whole world of knowledge (and controversy) is at your fingertips.
So load up a bowl, fill up your queue, kick up your feet, and start watching some of our favorite marijuana documentaries.
Super High Me (2007)
This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Doug Benson on The Sugar Leaf. The guy loves weed and isn’t afraid to let anyone know. In his documentary, Super High Me, Benson gives a head nod to documentarian Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). While Spurlock’s film tackled the weighty topic of fast food and health — he ate nothing but burgers, fries, and the like for 30 days — Benson turns the lens on weed. Following a 30-day body cleanse, Benson lights up for 30 days straight to see how it affects his health. It may not be the most intellectually stimulating of marijuana documentaries, but Benson does a great job of entertaining and presenting compelling information.
American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny (2013)
America’s drug laws are a constant inspiration for debate. American Drug War 2 hit this subject head on. Starting with the story of 2-year-old boy whose life was saved thanks to his parents illegally injecting his feeding tube with cannabis, filmmaker Kevin Booth levels his sights on some of the unintended victims of our country’s war on drugs — children. Booth covers everything from cartel recruiting in Mexico to drug use in the U.S. foster care system and the implications of political policy. If you’ve ever questioned the true motives of our nation’s war on drugs, the questions Booth raises and the points he drives home will be right up your alley.
Weed Series (2013, 2014, 2015)
Directed by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Weed is a three-part documentary series outlining the history of marijuana prohibition, the stigma created by the war on drugs, the medical benefits of marijuana, and the votes for legalization across the country. What makes the documentary series even more thought-provoking is the fact that prior to filming, Dr. Gupta himself was a medicinal marijuana critic who denounced the perceived health benefits of pot. With part 4 of the series expected later this year (2017), catch up with the early episodes now so you can dive in when the next installment hits TV screens nationwide.
420: The Documentary (2013)
You don’t have to be a stoner to know what 420 means. Growing out of the urban legend that high school students would meet and toke up at 4:20 pm each day, the number has grown to symbolize a daily and yearly (April 20th) celebration of weed. Each year, millions of people worldwide gather to smoke and enjoy fellowship as part of the celebration. 420: The Documentary dives deeper into the hypocrisy of marijuana possession arrests that occur during the terms of political leaders who have admitted to smoking pot in their youth. The film highlights arrests and even murders have arisen from the stringent laws enacted by politicians who, surprisingly enough, come to regret their actions. This should be on everyone's marijuana documentaries to-watch list.
The Culture High (2014)
Featuring interviews with famous stoners Joe Rogan, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and more, The Culture High explores both sides of the marijuana criminalization debate. Directed by Brett Harvey, the film runs the gamut of opinions and beliefs about the harms and benefits of legal weed. Bolstered by a look into the political history of the U.S. that helped shape our country’s current stance on weed, The Culture High makes for compelling viewing.
Reefer Madness (1936)
Ok, ok. So we may be getting a little loose with our interpretation of “documentary,” but Reefer Madness deserves a spot on our list. Originally released in 1936, the film epitomizes marijuana misinformation. Can someone really go criminally insane from smoking weed? According to Reefer Madness, they can. More importantly, however, the film is evidence of the propaganda campaign that shaped public perception around marijuana criminalization that led to the stigma we are all know. The film is almost required viewing to understand the public and political obstacles that are still present today in the fight for legalization.