Parents' Guide to

Grass Is Greener

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Provocative docu about marijuana has language, drug use.

Movie NR 2019 97 minutes
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With its punny title and 4/20 release date, it's forgivable to expect Grass Is Greener to be another dopey pro-marijuana movie. Fortunately, that's not the case. This is a necessary documentary that examines, from the relative enlightened vantage point of 2019, how the War on Drugs, and on cannabis in particular, was a tool used by the government to oppress people of color, or anyone opposed to, say, the Vietnam War. Grass Is Greener also traces how musicians have used and praised marijuana since at least the 1930s -- Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, among many others -- and how they too had their own "Branson" -- who has been name-checked in at least 70 hip-hop songs as the man who had the best weed in Harlem.

It's a thoughtful documentary, for all of its scenes of marijuana smoking. Grass Is Greener does more than simply address the possible creative or healthy benefits of cannabis, or even the positive impacts its legalization has had on states that are allowing its use. This documentary goes a step further, and calls out the continued racism that even permeates this burgeoning cannabis industry. One of the most shocking statistics in a documentary filled with shocking statistics is that fewer than 1% of legal dispensaries are run by African Americans, despite African Americans being the most persecuted in the decades when the War on Drugs was at a fever pitch. Interviewees even suggest reparations for those individuals, families, and communities who were destroyed by "get tough" prison sentences for trace amounts of marijuana. On the whole, this is a provocative documentary that does so much more than you might suspect at first glance.

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