Film Review: Weed The People

by Abby EpsteinMangurama and Bobb Films
reviewed by Bilge Ebiri
Film poster

Its playful title notwithstanding, Weed the People is a tough watch—but it’s definitely worth sticking with it. Abby Epstein’s documentary looks at the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of children with cancer. It follows a few kids—each with a particularly hopeless form of the disease—and their parents as they incorporate cannabis into their treatments. But first, we get to see these families in their darkest moments, faced with unthinkable prognoses and a future filled with heartbreak and death. Luckily, in most cases, the results they see after using cannabis are dramatic.

Nevertheless, as the film makes clear, cannabis faces major challenges in becoming a widely accepted form of treatment, despite the support of many doctors and the firsthand experiences of many patients. That’s because it is not undergoing any kind of official human trials—which means that it can’t be government approved and can’t be covered by insurance.

Cannabis faces major challenges in becoming a widely accepted form of treatment.

It will be surprising for some viewers to learn that the benefits of cannabis have been known to the medical community for decades, and that it was once considered a legitimate treatment for all sorts of ailments. The film notes that the criminalization of marijuana had its roots in various forms of racism and bigotry and had little to do with concern for anybody’s health. But through a compassionate look at how the treatment has benefited the most vulnerable among us, Weed the People makes a strong case for cannabis as a legitimate, and at times even miraculous, way to tackle this most heartless of diseases. —BE

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