By Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
I’ll be up front and admit that I’ve never inhaled. But although I passed on the grass, that doesn’t mean that I’m for or against smoking the stuff. I have some good friends who turned out just fine. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s right either. But never did I imagine I would be sitting through 80 minutes of watching reels roll by telling me how Marijuana took over the United States of America.
This film looks at the last 100 years of marijuana use, culture, and legislation, compiled from 400 hours of archival footage. It has been narrated by the celebrity weed aficionado Woody Harrelson, whose very name in the credits will ensure a laugh from audiences.
This savvy and biting examination of America's tireless crusade against Marijuana offers some unsettling insight into the legalisation controversy. By exposing the relatively unknown history of dope laws in the US, Grass manages to chip away at the drug's layers of stigmatisation to reveal a disturbing core of government-controlled propaganda.
The picture is broken up into sections recounting the varying official takes on the effects of Marijuana, like its leading to insanity, heroin abuse, Communism and finally, indolence. The movie doesn't focus exclusively on the gaunt, wide-eyed stereotype of the pot addict, though it does use that image to score a number of laughs.
Grass never talks down to those who think drug laws are desirable, but the film definitely takes a good laugh at their expense. I remain on the fence for the issue. Although I’m now more informed, using a one-sided argument is always dangerous. But after watching Grass, I can say that with its accessible and slick post modern foundation, this is a documentary worth watching and discussing, not only for its thematic merits but its artful side as well.
What kept chewing on my mind since after the first five minutes were the pretty common - What? and Why? What am I doing here and why am I watching this? Finishing my work early, not letting my colleague stop to grab a bite and then rushing all the way to Juhu so that I am not half a second late; a few minutes of the documentary and I was 'stoned'. Looking around we thought, what is everyone doing here? This motion picture that were are watching had no entertainment value to an average Indian and was not informative. Does it really matter how US fought against the dope?
On the flip side, with its accessible and slick post modern foundation, this is a documentary worth watching and discussing, not only for its thematic merits but its artful side as well.