Film Review: The Legend of 420

A decent, highly informational doc that takes a lighter look at a subject some might take far more seriously than others.
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There have been documentaries on just about every single subject imaginable, so why not one about marijuana? Why is cannabis a forbidden topic no one seems to want to talk about? More importantly, why isn’t Seth Rogen a producer on director Peter Spirer’s pot doc The Legend of 420?

Not that the movie is a comedy, nor is it just about “smokin’ and tokin’,” but it’s mostly a serious movie about the uses and need for medical cannabis to be legalized nationwide rather than on a state-per-state basis. It offers a number of serious arguments why cannabis should be decriminalized from a variety of subjects including growers, transporters and artists. Even Melissa Etheridge talks briefly about how cannabis helped her get through cancer treatment.

The doc is informative, showing different uses for cannabis in medicine and cooking, and it isn’t just a bunch of stoners philosophizing about their navels. We learn that cannabis can be used to help veterans with PTSD, for instance, and there’s even a veterinarian prescribing cannabis to his canine patients.

Who knew that there’s even an entire university dedicated to teaching people how to properly grow and care for cannabis? Or at least there was, because that university was raided by the DEA with protection from the local police enforcement while a horrible school shooting was taking place mere miles away.

The war on drugs and those who grow and distribute cannabis looms large over Spirer’s doc, including the opposition’s argument that cannabis is a gateway drug to far worse drugs. But we’re not talking “Breaking Bad” or Cocaine Cowboys here, as the movie’s purpose seems to be more about trying to get cannabis to those who really need it.

Incidentally, no one in the government is buying the movie’s theories why industrial hemp could be a huge cash crop for the country. Pop singer Jason Mraz appears here as a hemp supporter, but Woody Harrelson, who has been arrested in his support for hemp, is only mentioned in passing.

Much of the film seems to be deliberately preaching to the converted, and in some interviews the subjects seem to be protesting a little too much. In a device that’s become a little too commonplace these days, Spirer inserts mediocre stand-up comics making light of the subject to add some levity to the talking heads spouting facts. It probably wasn’t necessary, because subjects like British musician Michael Des Barres are fairly entertaining on their own, and honestly, the stand-ups aren’t particularly funny. Other similarly whimsical subjects include a man collecting marijuana from different eras as one might fine wine.

The Legend of 420 might not be the best documentary—it certainly won’t be of interest to everyone—but it’s a light and breezy film that moves at a brisk pace and tackles its subject quite thoroughly in a short burst of time.

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