The Marijuana Conspiracy is not your typical 1970s drug flick. Usually, movies in this genre are either zany comedies or hardcore stories about addiction. This film centers around five women in 1972. They are part of a government experiment to determine the effects of marijuana on females. Based on true events, things never quite reach the heights intended.
There are a number of themes discussed over the course of the film, including racism, sexism, and homophobia. These are all topical issues that are as important today as they were in the 1970s. Unfortunately, there is a sense that an opportunity was missed. The Marijuana Conspiracy has a potentially interesting backstory that is given the short end of the narrative stick.
Instead, the camaraderie between the five subjects is given center stage. Since the characters are likable this does work to an extent. All of them agreed to participate for different reasons and are easy to root for. There is an almost coming of age feel to the proceedings. However, The Marijuana Conspiracy only scratches the surface of what they are going through.
This is a shame since it is a very interesting premise. In reality, the Canadian government was considering legalizing marijuana. Before doing so, they wanted to see if this would have a negative impact on the economy. This led to the study which can be argued is tantamount to imprisonment and torture for the women who participated.
The gravity of the research never quite comes across. One issue is the dialogue in The Marijuana Conspiracy. Strong performances can only carry cookie cutter dialogue so far. Here, it often crosses the very thick line between serious drama and after school special. This makes the film sound silly and takes away from the emotional impact of what the women are experiencing.
This will not be as big of a problem for some. For those wanting to watch a movie about people getting stoned (it is 4/20, after all), the movie will check off the right boxes. The government conspiracy aspect will certainly be attractive to some. What will not be as forgivable are the continuity flaws. The characters dropping in and out of 1970’s vernacular is one thing; it may not even be all that noticeable. Having a Radiohead poster hanging on the wall in a movie set in 1972 is probably not the best idea, however.
The Marijuana Conspiracy comes out on – who’d have guessed? – 4/20 on digital and on demand
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