Ontario film censors have demanded that Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann cut out a 20-second clip from his acclaimed documentary Grass. The offending scene is archival footage from 1970, which shows rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees being forced to smoke marijuana in a laboratory.
The censorship board’s written report describes the scene as “animal abuse” because the monkeys are “restrained in a lab setting [and]appear very frightened and uncomfortable.” This violates the Ontario Theatres Act by depicting “a scene where an animal has been abused in the making of the film.”
The censors made no mention of scenes showing pot-smoking people, nor of scenes showing stoned mice toppling off tables and drugged fish swimming sideways.
Paul Mavrides, famed “Freak Brothers” cartoonist who provided animation for the film, told Cannabis Culture that “the Canadian distributor, Lion’s Gate, has refused the government’s outrageous and ill-informed demand.” Lion’s Gate will appeal the ruling tomorrow.
The ruling will delay Grass’ theatrical debut in Canada. The film had been scheduled to begin its theatre run June 16, but Ontario release plans are now on hold.
Grass is having no censorship problems in the US. It has been screened in New York, Seattle and San Francisco, and will open in 17 more US cities on June 16. The New York Times calls it “punchy and enjoyable.”
For the Toronto Star story on the film banning, go to: torontostar.com/thestar/editorial/news/20000604NEW11_CI-DOPE4.html