8 Must-Watch Cannabis Documentaries On Netflix
Published : May 16, 2019
Not sure what to watch tonight? Why not make it a weed-themed documentary? Netflix has a whole host of shows and films that cover the cannabis industry from a variety of angles. Keep reading to discover seven of the best documentaries the streaming platform has to offer.
LOVE WEED? NETFLIX HAS YOU COVERED
Netflix-and-chill takes on whole new meaning thanks to the streaming platform’s growing volume of weed-focussed documentaries. If you’ve ever wanted to discover the origins of 420, find out the potential of medical cannabis, or explore the darker side of marijuana cultivation, now is your chance! Line up a few carefully rolled blunts and get comfy, because there is a fantastic range of shows on Netflix that cater to virtually all tastes.
Below you will find a selection of some of the best offerings, and while they are not everything Netflix has in its catalogue, they do cover a broad range of topics. However, depending on where you live, different shows may be available. If you cannot find one of the documentaries listed, type “cannabis” in the search bar on Netflix to find out what your region does have available.
8 OF THE BEST CANNABIS DOCUMENTARY FILMS AND SERIES
WEED THE PEOPLE
Weed the People is a documentary that brings the issue of cannabis legality centre stage. Following the lives of several different children, we are shown how, in certain cases, cannabis has truly been life-saving. The power of this documentary lies in its use of real people living through unthinkable circumstances—circumstances made easier by the medicinal value of cannabis. While the footage is intended to provoke a strong emotional response toward cannabis prohibition, the documentary delivers a simple message—more research is desperately needed. It is a message that is not only supported by the families documented, but by the doctors and experts involved.
GRASS IS GREENER
In recent years, cannabis legalization has spread throughout the United States. Marijuana hasn’t always been so widely excepted, and Grass Is Greener takes an objective look at the history of cannabis prohibition and its lasting effects. It is no secret that marijuana convictions disproportionately affect minority communities, specifically young black men, but this is something those outside of the US may not be aware of.
Grass Is Greener helps shed light on America’s complicated relationship with cannabis while using celebrity guests to help explain the situation. Not only do you get to learn more about the rise of cannabis culture, but you get to hear how the plant has affected names like Snoop Dogg, Damian Marley, and Cypress Hill.
The Explained series on Netflix is an attempt by Vox Media to answer questions you’ve always wanted answering. Topics include why we get tattoos, whether we use too many exclamation marks (really. ), and most importantly, the history of cannabis. Only twenty minutes long, the “Weed” episode is excellent for those who want a bite-sized update on all things cannabis. Learn where cannabis strains come from, how the hemp plant has evolved over the centuries, and how cannabinoids work—all on your commute to work.
SUPER HIGH ME
If you ever watched the documentary Super Size Me way back in 2004, then you’ll be familiar with the format of Super High Me. This time, however, there is a slight difference. Instead of consuming only junk food, the comedian Doug Benson smokes weed for 30 days straight before taking a range of tests to see how he was affected. Although technically a spoiler, Doug is still very much alive and well, so at least we know that 30 days of weed doesn’t kill you. To find out what does happen to your body, make sure you add Super High Me to your watch list.
INSIDE MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Inside Medical Marijuana is National Geographic’s take on the world of legal marijuana. Throughout the 45-minute special, they take a look at the science behind cannabis and detail some of the lives affected by its use. The documentary also presents a compelling argument of old versus new. There are those who have dedicated their lives to the advocacy of medical marijuana, but there are also individuals who see the legalization of cannabis as a great money-making opportunity.
While it is too early to tell how legal marijuana will play out, Inside Medical Marijuana does an excellent job of setting the scene for what the cannabis industry might look like in the future.
THE LEGEND OF 420
“420” has become the international reference for all things cannabis-related, not just among stoners, but mainstream media too. The Legend of 420 aims to give viewers an all-encompassing overview of marijuana right from its initial legalization in the American state of California to its current applications on a global scale.
Interestingly, it also tries to present both sides of the argument for and against legalization, although it doesn’t take long to see that the arguments against are grounded in a significant amount of misinformation. The Legend of 420 is an ideal film for those who know very little about cannabis, as it gives a complete overview of the topic. Even if you do know your OG Kush from your Sour Diesel, the doc still has plenty to offer.
Presenting a side of cannabis cultivation many of us don’t think about, Murder Mountain is a series that highlights the growing number of missing people in the cannabis capital of America, Humboldt County. The Emerald Triangle is a haven for large-scale cannabis operations, and as the show suggests, potentially something more sinister.
It is important to point out that while there is plenty of factual substance to Murder Mountain, the show is heavily edited to be as dramatic as possible. There is no doubt that cannabis has become big business with a lot of money at stake, but whether it is as sinister as the show depicts—well that’s for you to decide.
Canada’s decision to legalize all forms of cannabis has changed the world forever. Not just for Canadians, but big businesses too. Rolling Papers follows a struggling newspaper as it decides to dedicate a column to the cannabis community. Like Murder Mountain, the documentary has a hefty amount of editing and special effects, which, while entertaining, do at times detract from the documentary’s main premise. Rolling Papers does highlight an issue that is still prevalent no matter where you are in the world—cannabis is still a highly controversial topic, despite how far it has come.
Follow the link for eight of the best cannabis documentaries currently on streaming platform Netflix. You'll be surprised how much attitudes have changed.
Top 5 Cannabis Documentaries to Watch During Quarantine
If you’re anything like us, you’re starting to feel a little stir-crazy during this period of isolation. Instead of binging more brain candy (we promise we’re not judging), why not take this opportunity to unearth a little more information on our favorite subject–cannabis? These five documentaries are excellent platforms to learn about the history, cultural impact, and legal journey of this powerful, yet incredibly stigmatized plant. So kick back, relax, and nourish your mind with some enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving cannabis industry–from past injustice to future hope.
Trying to figure our if cannabis is right for you? Learn the science behind our endocannabinoid system, or how terpenes can impact your experience.
CBD Nation (2020)
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and iTunes – this incredible documentary features the world’s leading cannabis experts, and highlights the powerful stories of many patients who took control of their own medical journeys.
American Hemp: Amazon Prime
American Hemp, a documentary directed by Josh Hyde, follows the growth and development of a hemp food company (Evo Hemp), focusing on the day to day business side of growing, processing, and selling hemp and hemp products. Evo Hemp is successful in introducing hemp as a main food source to Americans, with their products being picked up at well-known grocery chains and participating in major trade shows. However, the industrial hemp industry isn’t an easy one to navigate, from destroyed “hot” hemp crops (a.k.a. crops which contain too much THC), to ignorance about the legality of the plant, resulting in aggravating shipping and logistical issues.
This film also chronicles Evo Hemp’s transition into the CBD industry, partnering with Alex White Plume of Oglala Lakota–the first Native American hemp farmer in the US to produce hemp extract products. This film was released in 2019, following the 2018 Farm Bill, amid the explosion of CBD products on the market. It is incredibly informative, showing the process of creating CBD and hemp products while documenting the issues hemp farmers and companies continue to face in this evolving market.
American Hemp (the Evolution Continues): Amazon Prime
This four part documentary from Josh Hyde continues in the path of American Hemp, delving further into the business side of cannabis and the future of hemp production. The first episode introduces UnCanny Wellness, a water soluble CBD producer in Boulder, Colorado. Alex Corren, the founder and owner, is intensely involved in every element of the business. The focus of this episode profiles how he created his water soluble powder and how Alex outsources and automates the process to oversee each step of the process while maintaining a tiny team of two.
This small, yet mighty business is in stark contrast to the following three episodes which focus on Oglala Lakota and its owner, Alex White Plume. Alex tells of his struggles surviving as an American Indian in South Dakota, the abuse suffered by the Native American people during their fight for civil rights, and his personal story as a pioneer in the hemp farming industry. While continuing to face generations of economic difficulties and inequity, the Lakota remain committed to growing and celebrating this plant, with the hopeful message that hemp will change the world.
This follow up to American Hemp is incredibly stirring, highlighting the many injustices placed on the American Indian people and the stark contrast between the evolving commercial cannabis industry and small, family-owned hemp farms.
Grass is Greener: Netflix
This Netflix documentary, directed by Fab 5 Freddy, hip-hop pioneer and cannabis advocate, explores the brutal history of the demonization of cannabis in America and how it was used as a political tool and device for racial oppression throughout the past decade of our history. The film begins by exploring the intersecting relationship between jazz, African-American culture, and cannabis to show how these three components influenced the creative lifestyle and production of revolutionary art for the next sixty years. Continuing with the beat poets who promoted the view that art is the product of an altered mindset and that cannabis encourages the freedom of expression, marijuana eventually became a permanent fixture within the hippie counterculture movement, resulting in continued oppression from the government and further restrictions to stop dissent and control the civil rights movement. The film asserts that this legal restriction and cultural stigma continues to hold back growth and progress within minority communities, polarizing the current legal industry.
As cannabis moves from illicit drug to mainstream craze, this film asks us to keep our eyes open to the glaring racial disparities between the small businesses within minority communities and the polished and thriving corporations honing in on the growing cannabis market.
Emperor of Hemp: Amazon Prime / YouTube
This 1999 documentary explores the life of Jack Herer, well-known cannabis activist and the author of “the official hemp bible,” The Emperor Wears No Clothes. The film, narrated by Peter Coyote, tells the story of how Jack became known as the “Emperor of Hemp,” beginning from his roots as a conservative, straight-laced army vet to head shop owner, followed by his 1984 revelation that “hemp could actually save the world” and subsequent work to end marijuana prohibition.
This film chronicles the history of the stigma of cannabis in American culture, the abundance of uses for hemp in almost every industry, and the history behind the government’s suppression of cannabis throughout the 20th Century. Jack’s crusade to bring cannabis into the mainstream was invaluable to our current climate within the hemp industry. This intimate portrait is an inspiring and thought-provoking watch. (And the production of this film will instantly take you back to 1999.)
Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis: pbs.com
This PBS special explores the role of cannabis in modern medicine through the perspective of medical marijuana patients, doctors, and skeptics. It provides in-depth information on the science of the endocannabinoid system, discusses how cannabis has been used to effectively treat many drug-resistant symptoms and illnesses, and offers insight on the roadblocks research has faced due to the controversy and legality of cannabis during the past century. This film provides a very unique perspective, presenting both sides of the issue, from the critic who believes that medical marijuana use is just “smoking dope for medication” to the proponents of the plant who have used medical marijuana to regain their health and function within their daily lives. As cannabis continues to become a part of our mainstream culture, we look forward to future conversations on what has traditionally been ruled an academic dead-end in the field of scientific research.
Extra Credit – Hemp for Victory: Youtube
This educational film, referenced in Emperor of Hemp, was produced by the USDA in 1942, encouraging farmers to grow hemp during World War II to provide needed material for the Allies. After the war, the film disappeared for years, until Jack and his team of activists brought it back into awareness. This short film provides an informative tool to help modern-day Americans rediscover hemp’s promise, shedding the stigma of past defamation and revolutionizing the production of many of our necessities in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Have you watched any interesting documentaries on cannabis recently? Let us know what we should watch next in the comments below!
Kick back, relax, and nourish your mind with some enlightening insight into the rapidly evolving cannabis industry–from past injustice to future hope.