The American Marijuana Revolution
A NORML LIFE chronicles the state of medical marijuana in America through interviews with patients, caregivers, activists and doctors. NORML is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and has been leading the effort to legalize marijuana since 1965. In the film, the filmmakers visit locations such as California , Oregon , Washington and Washington , D.C. where cannabis medicine is being regulated for patients. Many interviews were made at Seattle ‘s Hempfest 2010 and at recent NORML conferences.
NORML, or National Organization of the Reform for Marijuana Laws, has advocated the decriminalization of cannabis for over 40 years. Its founder, current leaders and nationwide chapter representatives describe the patchwork of state and municipal laws that allow medical marijuana, while the federal government still regards cannabis as a dangerous narcotic. Voters in the US are increasingly recognizing the positive aspects of accepting and controlling medical marijuana in their communities for its medicinal benefits, as well as for its potential to generate needed tax revenue.
Interviews with doctors who treat and patients who suffer from physical and debilitating conditions explain that pharmaceutical medicines are often ineffective and produce dangerous side effects to their conditions. Most turn to cannabis in desperation only to discover pain and psychological relief, physical improvement and often a reversal of pathology. U.S. and international clinical studies contain overwhelming positive evidence that the numerous cannabanoid compounds found in marijuana have constructive properties and may be the key to the future of the plant as a medicine.
The film has snippets of Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek extolling the consciousness-expanding properties of pot. Canadian activist Jodie Emery, whose husband Marc is serving time in a US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet, is one of the interviewees. In her segment, Emery points out that Marc’s actions were aimed at bringing back homegrown marijuana instead of cartel-grown. Elvy Musikka, one of four federal patients who receives marijuana from the US government for her glaucoma, gives a powerful interview, as does her driver “Big Mike” and the little-but-mighty Ohio activist Tonya Davis. California Drs. Frank Lucido and Christine Paoletti do a fine job explaining the scientific basis for marijuana’s medical uses, and Kentuckian Gatewood Galbraith has some amusing and cogent analyses. Sabrina Fendrick describes how the new NORML Women’s Alliance sprang from an article titled “Stiletto Stoners” in Marie Claire, and NORML director Allen St. Pierre explains well the organization’s challenge: end prohibition while still offering assistance to its victims. He likened it to trying to build a boat while already in the water. The film ends with a message from NORML founder Keith Stroup encouraging folks to come “out” as pot smokers and work with their elected officials to lift federal prohibition, allowing states to make their own laws, just as happened with alcohol.
A NORML LIFE shares the personal stories and testimonies attesting to the efficacy of medicinal marijuana from those who are suffering from chronic illnesses. To what extent should we allow the government to legislate over personal freedoms and liberties with regard to our health and treatment?