The Culture High Film

The Culture High Film.

A few people have recently taken advantage of the advent of affordable film making equipment to make their own films, that are about recovery and related subjects. The Culture High is a film about the argument for getting marijuana legalised in the USA and to an extent elsewhere. You may feel it is odd for me to put this on the blog which is really about recovering from addictions rather than starting them, but I certainly feel that the war on drugs subject is worthy of debate and does raise questions about treatment methods. The film does contain sound bites from several addiction specialists including Gabor Mate and Dr David Nutt. I was impressed with both of them and felt both were arguing for a common sense solution.

The Culture High – Trailer from Adam Scorgie on Vimeo.

I must admit I am not a fan of long films, made up of strings of talking head sound bites, containing bits of archive footage to ram a point home. I do like to see more discussion and sense how somebody is responding to an interviewer. Having said that this is a low budget film and I feel it raises some good points, although it is slightly disjointed. There is certainly stuff here for the conspiracy theory fans and a lot about how the USA profits from arresting people for marijuana, even though these arrests do little to stem the supply of the drug, in the same way that prohibition for alcohol was also ineffective.

It talks about the benefits of medical marijuana, and as my mother had multiple sclerosis I am aware of how this can help some people, and feel it is wrong to make it available for ideological reasons. It talks about the heavy handed attitudes of law enforcement and compares the dangers of alcohol and dope and I would tend to agree that alcohol, can cause more damage.

I recently read Dr Carl Hart’s book which talks about  the war on drugs and how it has failed and have drawn attention to this podcast which makes similar points. The film also puts across reasons why the war on drugs has failed, and I certainly agree that this is something that needs to be looked at. There is very much a them and us situation in America, and I do not see the value of punishing people for fairly minor offences and wasting huge amounts of money on keeping them in prison.

The film tries to break down some stereotypes about smoking weed but in some ways actually enhances them! I still think that we have to be careful how we approach legalising some substances, and in my opinion, weed can certainly be a gateway drug. It certainly was for me, and I have done pretty much everything out there (in the interests of science!).

If you had asked me 25 years ago I would have certainly favoured legalisation, as I viewed “a bit of puff” as relatively harmless, but I am concerned about the strength of some of the stuff on sale these days. I don’t smoke anymore and have not done so for years (apart from passively in couple of UK reggae recording studios!), but I know people who do. Like alcohol, some people seem to moderate consumption well, and suffer no bad effects, while others abuse it. I think if societies do take steps to legalise some drugs, which they probably should do, when you consider that banning them has no effect on supply and demand, then they are going to have to deal with some people finding themselves having addiction issues as a result. Politicians generally do not want to spend money on effective drug and alcohol rehabilitation, partly because it is expensive, partly because it has a low effect and partly because it does not win votes.

The film is now available on Netflix and also on Vimeo on demand. I am glad that people are making films about causes they believe in and putting their points of view across. This is not the type of film that would get made by a network broadcaster, and I am glad that changes in technology have opened up the world of documentary making. I just wish people would be more ruthless in the edit suite and keep the length down. Sometimes less is more, especially in this type of production, and other people making self funded films should keep this in mind. Just because you shoot something, it does not need to be included!


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