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DIR: Ron Mann
1999 / Canada / 78 min

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It is about the people who discovered and spread the use of marijuana as a recreational drug, the sailors, jazzmen, entertainers, blacks and Mexicans, poets and beatniks, as well as their antagonists in the Bureau of Narcotics, headed by Harry Anslinger, (author of Marijuana: Assasin of Youth), who sought to drive grass underground.

Edited out of 500 hours of archival footage on the history of marijuana in North America, the film focusses on a long lasting and fierce prohibition that has seen the number of North American pot smokers rise from 60,000 (at the time it was outlawed) to 30 million.

GRASS is an informative and entertaining kaleidoscope of the longest-running and most disobeyed prohibition in the history of the USA, an epic tale of how Government bureaucrats created a climate which turned literrally millions of users, at least technically, into criminals.

As Mann says, the US Government managed to achieve exactly the opposite in the case of marijuana. In spite of contunuous and ferocious repression it went from being a recreation activity of Hispanic and African minorities to being a widespread, middle class activity. It’s incredible that people don’t know the history of GRASS in North America, how it was used as a scapegoat to target minorities, how factual data about it was again and again covered up in favor of the hysteria, and how it has been lumped with harder drugs.


Director Ron Mann
Dir. of Photography Robert Fresco
Editing Sue Len Quon
Sound Mike Rosnick,Tom Trafalski
Duration 78 min
Year 1999
Country Canada
Tags America, compilation, historical, society
Production Sphinx Productions
Sphinx Productions


1999 Toronto Film Festival ...

1999 Toronto Film Festival, Canada

2000 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Argentina

2000 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Czech Republic

2000 Bergen International Film Festival, Norway

2000 Stockholm International Film Festival, Sweden

2001 Genie Awards, Canada
Won Genie Award for Best Documentary



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