Beyond the Smoke Screen

How can marijuana advocates reach millions of people? By making quality video documentaries that use televisions and movie theaters to spread the message of legalization.

Hot on the heels of Jeff Meyers’ new film about Jack Herer, The Emperor of Hemp, is another fine documentary, Marijuana: Beyond the Smoke Screen, made by a Southern California company named Parallax Productions.

You may have already seen an earlier Parallax video – Grow Dutch – that featured Holland’s smartest bud producers and an interesting history of that country’s impressive grow scene. ?According to Alaine Lowell, a Parallax official who helped produce Grow Dutch, the new film is directed at mainstream audiences who watch PBS and other educational programming.

“Actually, we started the new film long before we released Grow Dutch,” Lowell explained. “Our intention was to do a multi-part series for PBS that documented the entire history of marijuana. They wanted a narrower scope, so we focused on prohibition. The original title of the film was America’s War Against Marijuana. Somebody used part of the title, so we changed it to Smoke Screen, but the message is the same- the war on cannabis is stupid, mean, and wasteful.”

To prove their point, Parallax has interviewed some of the leading experts on all sides of the marijuana issue. The list of people who appear in the film, which is still in production awaiting funding for final editing and fine-tuning, is truly a potpourri of viewpoints and personas.

Dennis Peron, the medical marijuana martyr who helped pass America’s first medical marijuana law in 1996, shares the stage with propaganda-spewing government officials opposed to marijuana.

Other marijuana martyrs, including the wife of a disabled Oklahoma man (Will Foster) who is serving a 20 year sentence for growing pot, describe the impact prohibition has had on themselves and their families.

James Burton, an American glaucoma patient who lost his freedom and his home to marijuana prohibition before fleeing to Holland, dramatically underscores the lack of compassion inherent in America’s approach to this plant.

Lowell and her crew have also scored heavy-hitting interviews from Dutch grow experts and politicians, pot historians, police, judges, and researchers.

“This new film will be interesting for people already familiar with the issues, but we didn’t want to be preaching to the choir,” Lowell said. “We want all people, even those who don’t care about marijuana or use it, to understand that the war against this plant has to end. That’s why we’ve made the film as a professional documentary in a style that can be used by teachers, parents, and activists.”

If Grow Dutch is any indication, Lowell’s new film will be powerful, entertaining and instructive. The earlier film is a well-paced, hour-long introduction to the Amsterdam caf? and grow scene, and also a thorough step-by-step guide to growing potent, high-quality, organically-produced cannabis.

Ed Rosenthal, the canna-genius who has been telling people how to grow gooey ganja for nearly 20 years, co-wrote the film. Grow Dutch even includes a special bonus segment, during which Dutch grow guru “Wernard” shows how to turn a huge amount of bud into a tiny amount of ultra-potent hashish.

“We’ve done four years of research and we have the skill and dedication to do this right,” Lowell says. “Our goal is to change the general public’s perceptions about marijuana, and to restore sanity to America’s drug policy.” ?

Parallax Productions is seeking tax-deductible and other donations necessary to put the finishing touches on Marijuana: Beyond the Smoke Screen. Donation checks can be made out to the International Documentary Association, and sent to Parallax at 99 S. Raymond Ave. Suite 104, Pasadena, Ca. 91105. Ordering copies of Grow Dutch for $19.95 US will also help finish the new film. Contact Parallax via email at [email protected]