Medicinal Cannabis and its Impact on Human Health (Documentary)

By Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Liaison for Americans for Safe Access

This game-changing documentary presents the most comprehensive synopsis of the medical science surrounding the world’s most controversial plant to date.

Medicinal Cannabis and its Impact on Human Health follows the research of over 15,000 scientific and medical trials, and takes a specific look at what conditions have been proven to benefit from medical marijuana.

In this myth-shattering, information packed documentary, physicians and leading researchers present modern scientific findings regarding the demonstrated effects of medicinal cannabis use for treating many kinds of cancers, auto-immune illnesses, neurological issues, chronic pain, and more. It also shows its historical use as medicine dating back over 5300 years ago.

Executive Producer James Schmachtenberger, a medical cannabis advocate and one of the founders of San Diego Herbal Alternatives (SDHA) – a medical marijuana collective, sat down to discuss the documentary, idea and message behind it.

How did the idea first come about to film a documentary on Medicinal Cannabis and its Impact on Human Health?
The idea to create this documentary first came about in November of 2009, a few months after we opened the collective in San Diego. We met many patients who had never used cannabis until their primary care physician recommended it for them, and many of these patients were running into repercussions in their personal and professional lives because of the stigma and myths surrounding marijuana.

Although it was clear that medical cannabis was tremendously helpful to people with a wide range of medical conditions, there was still so much misinformation and false propaganda out there about it and very little presenting the real scientific  information and evidence on the topic to help educate people.

I wanted to create a clear, authoritative video that could better inform people – who were not already well educated about the benefits of appropriate medical cannabis use, and might still hold misinformed, negative views on the topic – by having the leading scientific experts in the field address the common myths and misconceptions while presenting the real data on these topics that have emerged from a huge body of well conducted, unbiased scientific trials. For this and all topics, it’s critical that people have accurate and unbiased information to support effective decision making.

Why did you decide to produce a video as opposed to writing a book or using another means of distributing this information?
Video is an impactful and engaging way of educating and getting the message out to the masses. People are more likely to watch a movie or video rather than read a research paper or a book. Video seemed like the best method of delivery for the intended goal.

In December of 2009, when we first began to work on the film, it was mainly geared towards patients. As filming went on and we interviewed more doctors, we realized that it had a much greater scope. We found that it could help educate families, friends, and coworkers of people who use this medicine and hopefully create a paradigm shift in their views.

How do you intend on using this documentary? How do you hope people will use it?
The film will be distributed freely under the “creative commons license”. My hope is that people across the nation will use this film for education and to affect policy change. We showed portions of this film to the San Diego Planning Commission and have actually been asked to provide transcripts of some of the doctors’ interviews as expert evidence in criminal trials. People are welcome to reshow it, cut it, and use it to make as much of an impact as possible.

How much did it cost to produce? How many hours would you say were put into it?
The documentary cost about $15,000 to make, and we spent around 1500 hours on it. No one in the film including the doctors were paid for their interviews, and although we did have a few volunteers that helped out, it was primarily Lindsey Ward (Director/Producer) and Troy Brajkovich (Director of Photography) that did most of the work in producing, editing and finalizing the film.

What did you learn from making this documentary?
I learned a lot! The most significant thing was from Dr. Tashkin in understanding how cannabis’ anti-tumor properties work. Most of us in the medical marijuana field know that the plant has tremendous healing properties, but a lot of us don’t understand the actual science behind it. In the documentary, Dr. Tashkin explains in depth why THC suppresses tumor growth.

What would you have liked to focus on, but didn’t get to in this documentary?
There are many aspects of cannabis use that I think deserve serious focus and attention. There are so many different medical conditions that are helped with the use of cannabis. I would like to see a detailed presentation of how cannabis is useful for treating all major conditions as well as how to properly use it as a treatment for each. Other topics I’d love to see well addressed are the industrial uses of hemp and the profound environmental benefits that would come from its legalization; and the critical economic and social benefits that would come as well. Due to time and budget limitations, we focused on one area we thought could have the most benefit.

Any plans for a sequel? If so, what would you cover in it?
We already have a few other documentaries in mind. The one we would most likely focus on next is how cannabis affects different types of cancers, which will include detailed information on how to most effectively use cannabis as a treatment. In the future, we definitely want to focus on industrial hemp, our country’s failed drug war, the problem with prohibition, and full hemp legalization.

Our current focus is on getting this documentary out to as many people as possible as well as to secure funding for the next film, so we can continue to educate the public. I hope that the credibility and success from this documentary will help us secure more funding and support for future work. It is our intent to start filming in about 4-6 months.

Did you ever think you would be a documentarian? How does that feel?
I am very excited. I feel that in our current society video is a powerful tool for education and impact. Seeing the documentary and how much people have been positively impacted when they watch it, makes me feel like I have tapped into a medium that I can continue to work with; it’s something that can help change the minds of people on this issue while helping to advance other social and environmental issues that I want to support over the next several years. It feels like I have a new tool that I didn’t have before, one that is more powerful than anything I’ve ever used for creating change.

What are your plans in promoting or screening the documentary?  Will you be holding screenings?
We are coordinating multiple screenings across the country and are teaming up with individuals and organizations to screen the film.  In January of this year, we held the first screening of the documentary in Hilo, Hawaii with almost 200 people in attendance. If anyone is interested in finding out information about hosting a screening, all the details can be found on the documentary’s website at

On March 16, 2011, we will be holding a screening in San Diego at the Landmark, Hillcrest Theater at 7pm. Tickets will be $10 with the proceeds going towards the rental of the theater.

Aside from screenings, we are teaming up with collectives and doctors across the nation to provide this information to their patients. We are also making the complete documentary available for free online at

To watch the trailer and for more information on the film, visit

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