Popular television series like The Wire, Breaking Bad and Weeds make light of the drug game. Musicians glorify the money, power and respect that you get when you associate yourself with it; but drugs are so much more than the street level pushers who promote it. Focusing more on the comedic side of drug use and how it affects the people surrounding it; movies, television and music label drug use and production as a way out of a bad situation. In actuality, society is a slave to the hazards of drugs; it doesn’t only focus on getting money, it destroys families, friendships and makes a criminal out of those indebted to it. Take a look below to see a list of documentaries that depict true accounts of drug use, production and the effects it has on all points of society.
10. Stoned Moms: The Marijuana Industry’s Greatest Untapped Market (2014)
Starting off our list is a documentary that focuses on moms and pot! This short documentary was made to convince suburban moms that smoking pot is not a bad idea; following one woman’s account, venturing back into the realm of smoking weed. We see the film crew take her to grow houses and legitimate retail businesses like bakeries, candy shops and grow opts that provide items that can get you high under a guise. Filmed in Colorado, where weed is making a name for itself, the documentary was released by Vice who has shot other short documentaries about drugs and its effects on society.
9. The Union: The Business of Getting High (2007)
Brett Harvey and Adam Scrogie produced this documentary that focuses on the billion dollar pot business in Vancouver, British Columbia. With archive footage of former President Bush, CEOs of pharmaceutical companies and pot growers, the documentary goes on to explain the fight to run a propaganda campaign against drugs. The viewer gets to see both sides of the story and where the idea that pot was bad came from. If you are interested in the history of pot, this is a great documentary to watch. The directors take you back to a time when people utilized all aspects of hemp, including former presidents.
8. How to Make Money Selling Drugs (2012)
At first glance, one would think this is a fiction film, as the list of celebrities that make cameos in this documentary include Susan Sarandon, Eminem, 50 Cent, Arianna Huffington, Russell Simmons, to name a few. This 2012 documentary focuses on current and former drug dealers, cops, DEA and even celebrities who had former ties to drugs, telling the tricks of how to make money selling drugs. Exciting to watch because of the glamour of seeing some of your favorite rappers, actors and producers, telling you how they used to do it, what worked for them and what didn’t; but even more interesting is the information that comes from people who were kingpins in their day, like Freeway Rick Ross.
7. Magic Trip (2011)
Based in the 60’s and consisting of only old footage and voice-overs, this 2011 documentary focused on Ken Kesey author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Merry Band of Pranksters, who drove a decoratively colored bus across the US. Along the way, they stopped and mingled with the best of them such as; Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Meant to be a documentary about their cross country trip, this footage was tossed aside and not looked at for years. Apparently beginning to rust, Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood restored over 100 hours of footage and audio, and turned it into this! This documentary takes a look at the lighter side of drugs and the hippie revolution. It’s basically almost 2-hours of an interesting LSD trip.
6. Cocaine Unwrapped (2011)
This 2011 documentary focuses on the effects that the cocaine drug trade has had on Columbia, its people and its culture. The film looks at how the high demand for cocaine in America has negatively affected the coca leaves that Bolivian farmers grow. It delves deeper into the streets, as it takes a look at single mothers whose children are affected by the drug, whether they are addicts, dealers or mules, and even more heartbreaking, it shows how some of the single mothers themselves are mules in order to provide for their families and fatherless children. The documentary goes on to show the viewers how addiction to a simple plant has affected users in the United Kingdom and all over the United States, while racking up the body count around the world. This documentary features interviews from former presidents, journalists, single mothers and drug addicts.
5. Addiction (2013)
Released in 2013 as a 10-part series; however, today we are looking at the 7th hour which focuses on addiction. The addiction of tobacco, not usually seen as a “real” drug, is a big money maker in Indonesia. Throughout the documentary, we see the effects that tobacco has on a culture that prides itself on smoking, with children as young as six-years of age, smoking for the “health benefits”, and men with severe lung cancer believing that the tobacco smoke will cure them. Take a look at this documentary to see a interesting take on tobacco in another part of the world.
4. American Addict (2002)
This documentary focuses its attention on how the American pharmaceutical companies are pimping out drugs to society. Released in 2002, it shows the extent to which a prescription drug company will go to, to sell a drug to doctors and patients. Interviews are done with executives and CEO’s of the pharmaceutical companies and at lower level interviews, are done with patients, parents, nurses and holistic doctors, who go on to explain the idea of the pharmaceutical drug companies as the modern day pushers.
3. The House I Live In (2012)
A look at the American criminal justice system through the eyes of the dealers, prison inmates, judges and litigators; the viewer gets to experience how the drugs get from the supplier to the dealer to the addict to and to the jailhouse. In some cases, you are even shown the alternative ways in which the police have chosen to war against the drug game. With candids from professors, scientists and residents of the towns most affected by drugs; The Wire creator David Simon also gives his take on drugs and the consequence it can have for tight knit communities.
2. Ganja Queen (2007)
In 2004, a 27-year old Australian heading to Bali is arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling. The documentary takes the viewer on a whirlwind ride into the laws and ethics in Indonesia; they make the viewer wonder if Schapelle Corby, a girl who was once ecstatic to go on a family vacation to Bali, is guilty of smuggling 10 pounds of marijuana in a boogie-board bag. The documentary makes you question if she was set up by a family member, airport security or baggage handlers. Taking place just before the trial starts, the documentary takes you into the courtroom to view testimony and show you the process of being on trial in another country. Some have questioned whether Schapelle was given a fair trial and what her sentencing will lead to.
1. Cocaine Cowboys (2006)
Slightly over-dramatic at times, but a great re-telling of Miami’s obsession with cocaine trafficking in the 70’s and 80’s, this is the story that inspired such films and television shows as Scarface and Miami Vice. Released in 2006, the film took you through the steps of how cocaine made its way from Colombia to Miami, and the effects both good and bad that it had on the city of Miami. With interviews from kingpins, hit men, traffickers and political figures; Cocaine Cowboys gives the viewer the story from every angle in the grittiest of ways. There was a follow-up to this documentary released in 2008 that focused on head of operations, Griselda Blanco and her return to the drug game, this time in a new state and a new era.