The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

Synopsis: BC's illegal marijuana trade industry has evolved into a business giant, dubbed by some involved as 'The Union', Commanding upwards of $7 billion Canadian annually. With up to 85% of 'BC Bud' being exported to the United States, the trade has become an international issue. Follow filmmaker Adam Scorgie as he demystifies the underground market and brings to light how an industry can function while remaining illegal. Through growers, police officers, criminologists, economists, doctors, politicians and pop culture icons, Scorgie examines the cause and effect nature of the business - an industry that may be profiting more by being illegal.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Brett Harvey
Production: Phase 4 Films
  2 wins & 2 nominations.
104 min

( host )

Marijuana History 101.

Or should I say extremely brief

Marijuana History 101 ?

It's big, complicated,

and we'll only be able to

scratch the surface,

so let's get started.

The first thing

that strikes one as odd

when looking at the history

of marijuana,

which is also

known as cannabis,

is how very much legal

it once was.

In fact, it wasn't only legal,

it just happened to be one of

the largest agricultural crops

in the world,

including the United States.

You see, cannabis can also be

hemp-- and just what is hemp ?

Well, it's by and large

the most robust, durable,

natural soft fiber on the face

of this planet.

Up until 1883,

and for

thousands of years before,

cannabis hemp was the largest

agricultural crop in the world.

It had thousands of uses

and products.

The majority of

fabric, lighting oil,

medicines, paper and fiber

came from hemp.

The first marijuana law

to exist in the United States

was a law ordering farmers

to grow hemp.

Benjamin Franklin

used it to start

one of America's

first paper mills.

The first two copies of

the Declaration of Independence

were written on cannabis

hemp paper.

Up until the 1800s,

most of the textiles

in the United States were

made with hemp.

last half of the 19th century

was made from cannabis.

Even Queen Victoria used

the resin extracts from cannabis

to alleviate her

menstrual cramps.

But the funny thing about

industrial hemp

was you couldn't

get high from it,

yet it was lumped in

with the following,

which also made little sense--

"Reefer Madness."

In the early 20th century,

yellow journalism had surfaced.

Articles depicted blacks and

Mexicans as frenzied beasts

who would smoke marijuana,

play devil's music,

and heap disrespect and

viciousness on the readership,

a majority of which happened

to be white.

Some offenses included

looking at a white woman twice,

laughing at a white person,

or even stepping on

white men's shadows,

and this ended up leading to a

law in the form of a tax stamp,

a tax stamp that would not only

include marijuana,

but also hemp

and cannabis medicines.

It speculated that hemp's


for an abundance

of new products

was going to be in direct

competition with other sources.

And this,

added to the Reefer Madness,

led to the eventual downfall of

all forms of cannabis.

"Popular Mechanics" magazine had

actually prepared an article


"New Billion-Dollar Crop."

Hemp was touted as being

able to produce

more than 5,000 textile products

from its threadlike fiber

and more than 25,000

products from its cellulose,

ranging from dynamite

to cellophane.

Its superiority as a source for

paper was also becoming known,

especially with the development

of hemp-processing equipment.

Now, the new Marijuana Tax Act

was all fine and dandy,

except for one thing.

If you wanted to grow hemp,

you needed to buy a stamp,

but they weren't giving

any out--

to anybody.

And so, in effect, all forms of

cannabis became illegal.

Things pretty much stayed

that way until World War II,

when the government decided

that hemp,

once again, was a good thing,

and produced a video,

"Hemp for Victory."

But by the time the war was

over, hemp again became bad,

and in 1948,

when the Marijuana Law

once again came into question,

Congress recognized that

marijuana was made illegal

for the wrong reason.

It didn't make people

violent at all.

It made them pacifists.

The Communists would use it to

weaken America's will to fight.

Congress now voted to keep

marijuana illegal

for the exact opposite reason

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