What if Cannabis Cured Cancer? A film by Len Richmond
In the world of pot films there are two main camps: the pompous and the preposterous. The former category includes all those documentaries about the dangers of smoking marijuana. The second includes things like Reefer Madness.
Recently, however, a third category has emerged: films about the medical benefits of cannabis, and while it, too, includes a wealth of documentaries (including a couple produced by the folks at National Geographic), the newest, most refreshing edition is a film by Len Richmond, a self-described "sixties hippie type" who marched in anti-Viet Nam war protests as a younger man. Later, after his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he decided he had to do something.
Thus his film What if Cannabis Cured Cancer? was born. Well, actually, Everything Bad is Good: Healing Yourself in a World of Medicine Gone Mad was the former BBC comedy writer's first foray into medical documentaries, and it was all about using natural methods to cure diseases. Of course, the research led him to cannabis, and another project was born.
Researching cannabis and its medical benefits is not without difficulty or controversy, however. At one point, Richmond related in an interview with "Cannabis Culture" magazine, he received an old article about marijuana as a cause of testicular cancer.
"I started investigating the research done on the study and even the doctor was who hired to conduct the study said donít read too much into it, the results arenít conclusive, the amount of people in the study were so small it is difficult to even pinpoint a correlation, and of course we donít know if the control group was telling the truth about their past drug use," Richmond said, adding, "But thatís not the way the press reported it. And, of course, the study was funded by the folks who wanted to prove that pot is bad for you."
In any case, Richmond's film goes into a lot more depth than that article. His interviewees included Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, who explained to him that even if you're not a pot smoker, "Öyou have marijuana-like substances in your body. It is naturally in your body, you are born with it, and it is called the endocannabinoid system."
A good portion of Richmond's film then, is an exploration of these endocannabinoids and what they do. As he explained in that same Cannabis Culture interview, "Endocannabinoids are found in our nervous and immune systems and have an almost identical structure to cannabinoids found in cannabis. These two compounds act as a sort of lock and key for each other in your body Ė a chemical reaction Ė that becomes beneficial, forming into modulators of good health. Endocannabinoids act as tumor regulators, mood regulators, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, and the list goes on."
The film goes into greater depth, of course, and is also incredibly candid. It's narrated by Peter Coyote and includes interviews with medical researchers, physicians who prescribe marijuana to their patients, and of course, patients themselves. It was featured at the Sausalito Film Festival, and in Whole Life Magazine, and is available for purchase from Amazon.com.
The bottom line is this: if we're ever going to accept the use of medical marijuana not just in this country, but worldwide, and if we're ever going to de-stigmatize use of marijuana at all, we need more films like What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?, and more filmmakers like Len Richmond.