An Interesting But Biased Pro-Drug Documentary
Should marijuana be legalized? It’s something that’s been a constant commentary across the world, with many communities seeing lower crime rates thanks to legalization. Tracing its American roots from the 1900’s through to the present day campaigning to get the drug legalized, Grass Is Greener is an unashamedly “pro-drugs” documentary but it presents its material with enough educational content and historical facts to make it worth a watch nonetheless.
The documentary begins with an introduction to the main players talking about the benefits of weed before jumping back in time to trace its early roots in American culture. Instrumental to the creativity in the Jazz scene, Fab 5 Freddy narrates the film and talks us through the creative implications this drug has. As a former drug addict and someone who used to smoke a lot, it’s fair to say marijuana absolutely changes your perception of music for the better. It’s no surprise then that this drug became synonymous with musicians at the time in a genre known for its improvisation.
Moving past Jazz music, Grass Is Greener then talks us through the early banning of weed and the fake news reports put out at that time explaining the psychotic implications the drug has. While the film does gloss over some of the more extreme cases where it has been linked to long-term brain damage and addiction, tracing its roots through the various evolved forms of music over the years is ultimately what really stands out here. As the narrative changes toward a more anti-establishment tone and legalization, the music genre shifts across to the rebellious hip hop of the 90’s that helped bring this subject to mainstream audiences across the world.
As an educational trip through American history, Grass Is Greener does an excellent job capturing the various moods of the time, from Nixon’s clamp-down on drugs through to the modern day legalization process. It helps too that the film collates various archival footage through the years and combines that with face to face interviews. The facts and documents shown on screen do help add some weight to the pro-drug argument but there’s no denying that Grass Is Greener is biased in its message, failing to balance its argument with some of the negatives.
From mood swings, anxiety and paranoia through to lower reaction times and poor memory retention, all of these are side effects I’ve personally experienced with this drug and something that’s been documented in various medical journals and scientific reports the world over. Given they’re not showcased in this documentary, it’s worth taking this one in its stride.
If you can go into this one knowing that, Grass Is Greener is an enjoyable, educational journey. There’s a good use of facts and figures, all glued together through the use of music that shows the changing mood and attitude toward America and the drug itself. Whether it be the early improv-Jazz or the hard hitting hip hop lashing out at the government, the music ultimately serves as a timeline to chronicle America’s complicated relationship with weed. Whether cannabis will be 100% legal in the future is still up for debate but in the meantime, Grass Is Greener serves up a reminder of the good this drug can do, even if it does gloss over a lot of the negatives.
Verdict - 6/10