The Marijuana Conspiracy (Canada, 2021)

The story of an attempt to legalize marijuana in Canada in the 1970s becomes a fight for unity and truth in this semi-biopic from director Craig Pryce.

In 1972, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had thought about legalizing marijuana, but not without merit. John Bradow, a businessman who loves to smoke, turns to Dr. Barry Fincher, a behavioralist with a plan to do a study on the effects of marijuana. Fincher finds a group of women who are willing to spend 98 days in isolation and smoke marijuana to study the effects. The women come from diverse backgrounds and Fincher gets psychiatrist Dr. Spencer Harlow and nurse Alice Jones as well as his friend Adam to assist with the experiment.

The women include Jane, a woman who quits her job after being tired of not getting a promotion because of her gender; homeless Mary; graphic designer Marissa; traveler Janice; and Mourinda, who suffers from relationship issues. At first, things go smoothly despite some reservations from some. While one of the women find herself constantly breaking the rules and facing the wrath of the staff, it’s nothing compared to Fincher’s plan and determining whether he will even consider the results of the study.

This is based on a true story which seemed to have been forgotten until an article in the Toronto Star sparked notion. The article focused on Doreen Brown, who was part of the infamous 1972 study, and her point of view as to what happened and how to this day, she never got the results of the study. Writer-director Craig Pryce decided to bring the story to life as it is a piece of Canadian history and takes a very realistic look at this study, which goes from zero to one hundred and in essence, brings a sense of unity between these diverse women.

While there is not just one character based on Brown (elements of her are spread throughout the different characters), the cast really give it their all and it is that variousness of characters where the lesson of chemistry must be vital. Here it does very well. Tymika Tafari, Julia Sarah Stone, Morgan Kohan, Brittany Bristow, and Kyla Young give off amazing performances as the women who take part in the study as their background stories show the various types of women we deal with here.

Gregory Calderone gives off a bit of a slimy vibe as Barry, the doctor in charge of the experiment. Research assistant Adam, played by former Degrassi star Luke Bilyk, is quite the interesting character as he is both charming and at times, feels uncomfortable about the situation that ensues. While Paulino Nunes’ Dr. Harlow is in full support of the project, Marie Ward’s nurse Alice seems to have a few reservations like Adam does when it comes to the extension of the study. Derek McGrath brings a bit of scrutiny as the businessman who finances the experiment in hopes that they will legalize marijuana. Of course, in actuality, the results were never revealed to this day and the final moments flash forwards to the present with a great final line to the film.

The Marijuana Conspiracy is a look at a study that went too far and had never materialized. And yet, it shows what can happen when a group of women may be forced, but ultimately depend on each other in a time of scrutiny. An important film worth looking at.

WFG RATING: B+

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a Pot Luck Films production. Director: Craig Pryce. Producers: Craig Pryce and Jennifer Haufler. Writer: Craig Pryce. Cinematography: John Berrie. Editing: Dona Noga and Marc Roussel.

Cast: Tymika Tafari, Julia Sarah Stone, Morgan Kohan, Brittany Bristow, Kyla Young, Marie Ward, Luke Bilyk, Alanna Bale, Gregory Calderone, Paulino Nunes, Paula Boudreau, Derek McGrath, Hannah Vandenbygaart.

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