Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jul 2013
Source: Missoula Independent (MT)
Copyright: 2013 Missoula Independent
Author: Molly Laich


Cannabis Destiny Localizes the Drug War

There may be more than a few documentaries floating around that are 
critical of the war on drugs in this country, but only a couple that 
feature scenic shots of Missoula and stories of Montanans. One is 
Rebecca Richman Cohen's 2012 Code of the West. The other is Kevin 
Booth's newest film, American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny. (The 
first, American Drug War: The Last White Hope originally aired on 
Showtime in 2007 and seems to take a more inclusive view.) American 
Drug War 2 focuses on marijuana: How it's distributed, the changing 
face of prohibition and conflicts between state and federal laws in 
this new era of state-by-state legalization practices.

It's a relevant topic here in Montana, where we experienced a brief 
heyday of legalized medical cannabis, until the federal government 
suddenly remembered they could do whatever they wanted, came in broad 
daylight and pillaged grow operations' equipment, product and livelihood.

Most Indy readers are likely familiar with the film's many arguments 
for the legalization of pot. Our prisons are overrun with non-violent 
drug offenders. The illegal drug trade makes for impoverished border 
towns, drug and gang violence and dirty money along the border. Think 
of all the revenue we can make in the taxes. Marijuana is less 
dangerous than heroin, crack, cocaine, alcohol, etc. The drug war is 
expensive and ineffective. Marijuana alleviates the symptoms of 
schizophrenia. Booth basically throws the kitchen sink at the 
audience, but the enemy is a many-headed monster with a lot of money; 
we need all the weaponry we can get.

There is some new information-at least new to me. I knew that pot had 
great medicinal value when it came to alleviating symptoms. It makes 
cancer patients less nauseous, it increases appetite, it alleviates 
pain. But I didn't know that people were using high concentrations of 
THC oil to actually try to cure the cancer, and it turns out I didn't 
know because Booth says the practice is an ancient, illegal secret. 
The film posits that our government and the pharmaceutical giants 
they work for have a vested interest in keeping cheap, effective, 
non-invasive, non-chemical drugs out of the hands of ordinary citizens.

At the emotional center of the film is the story of the late Cash 
Hyde and his Missoula family's battle with their son's aggressive 
brain tumors. When doctors told them there was nothing more that 
modern medicine could do for 4-year-old Cash, his parents started 
sneaking bootlegged doses of THC oil into his feeding tube, and their 
son's health improved. In one infuriating scene, Cash's parents go on 
the television talk show "Dr. Drew" to tell their story, and you 
watch a TV doctor lecture Cash's mom on interfering with hospital 
policy, as if she should have let her kid die so as not to disturb a 
protocol that favors the bottom line. I was livid and you should be, too.

American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny is essentially a call to 
action. Now that the country is coming around to a more enlightened 
point of view, we need new laws and regulations that reflect the 
people's will. If the film is a little overzealous in its claims of 
marijuana's unequivocal goodness, well, you've got to stay on 
message, I guess. I'm wary of anyone who comes along claiming a drug 
is the perfect panacea, but that's exactly why changing the system is 
so important. Pot is powerful and its age-old benefits deserve to be 
explored with all the tools that modern medicine has to offer-and 
without fear of prosecution, obviously.

Booth's film invites us to remember that marijuana reform isn't a 
given. We have to continually fight for it. I've never personally met 
a person in Montana who wasn't already of this opinion, but they're 
out there. Maybe one of them will stumble into the Wilma and learn something.

American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny screens at the Wilma Theatre 
Thu., July 25, at 7:30 PM, followed by a panel discussion. $7 at 
Rockin Rudy's and the Wilma box office. Proceeds go to the Cash Hyde Foundation.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom