The Culture High – Behind the Scenes

By Jason Reed

PART 1 Coming to the UK

It was the documentary that’s said to have legitimately changed the collective thinking on what was a stale and entrenched subject matter. The Union The Business Behind Getting High is a bejewelled documentary adorned with an array of awards, and gilded with equal amounts of acclaim.

The 2007 documentary has become a contemporary classic and it enjoys a cult status. The movie is an accessible must-view of a production; it’s a tool in the armoury that fights against an onslaught of ignorance that litters the field of prohibition. So successful was The Union, Executive Producer, Adam Scorgie, and Director, Brett Harvey, were invited to screen the film to an avid audience of Canadian MPs at Parliament Hill; the credentials of the documentary really do speak at a projected volume only comparable to that of the eminent interviewees who lend their valuable weight to the issue.

The Culture High. President Obama " I never understood that line. The point was to inhale. That was the point.

Obama: I inhaled, that was the point.

Heading into 2014, we can look forward to the sequel: The Culture High.

Launching with an exemplary Kickstarter campaign, The Culture High became one of the most anticipated films on drug policy to date all the while the production was constructed on little more than whispers and promises. It quickly became apparent that the world was ready for The Union II and embraced it wholeheartedly.

With a budget set, and support pledged, The Culture High (TCH) started in its preproduction. Owing to the rather large and extremely enthusiastic support from the UK, the crew soon realised that there was an equally large story to be told from this small island. This is where I came in; I offered services from the UK perspective. When the UK has seen such political parables as Professor Nutt’s sacking, and the rather ominous legacy that is UK drug policy, there are indeed global lessons to be taught and pored over in such an entangled web.

Snoop Dogg talks about cannabis to The Culture High

Snoop Dogg talks to The Culture High about cannabis culture and his personal views.

So, off to work to we went. Endless emails were sent, messages, transatlantic planning, all in aid of getting the crew across the pond. For a full list of The Culture High crew, see the website – these are the people that ‘make the magic’ happen. Documentary making is really about the passion of the project. There’s little in the way of reward other than satisfaction. I’ve come to know just how much hard work and sleepless nights these guys put in. Dedication has been redefined by The Culture High crew.

It soon became time to get serious; with months of planning in the bag, The Culture high was set to arrive for the first time on the UK shores. What followed was two weeks of the most intense, exhilarating, exhausting, and enlightening experience one could imagine. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll give a small insight into the behind the scenes action that saw Adam Scorgie, Brett Harvey, Stephen Green, myself, and two extremely professional and incredibly affable UK soundmen, drive across the length and breadth of the country, interviewing the most notorious and eminent persons that are involved in shaping national and international drug policy.

Dr Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Dr Lester Grinspoon

Set for release in early 2014, this new film already can boast US contributions from the likes of Snoop Dogg, B-Real from Cypress Hill, the indefatigable Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Supreme Court Judge, Jim Gray, former DEA agents, and the co-creator of The Wire. We also have the authority on lung function and cannabis in Dr. Donald Tashkin, a NASA genius in Howard Bloom, Rap Artist Wiz Khalifa, and the returning Joe Rogan. These are just a few of the many North Americans that are heading for the silver screen to profess their personal and considered views surrounding cannabis prohibition and the deep rooted issues that have an insidious domino effect. How do the media handle the debate? How’s culture changed? What can we expect to see over the next few years? How does the UK fit into the international picture — and will we see change?

So permit me if you will to lift the curtain, unfurrow the veil of the silver screen, and embark on the (don’t make me say it!) ‘journey’ of The Culture High. What can this new film mean to the UK’s discourse? If nothing else, it’s going to be a good ride. Over the coming days I’ll give an exclusive cheeky peek at how the UK played its part in the making of next year’s most anticipated drug policy movie. So fetch the popcorn, book your seats, we have a yarn to spin.

Jason Reed is a journalist and activist with LEAP. He is Associate Producer for The Culture High. You can follow Jason on Twitter @JasonTron

Follow The Culture High on Twitter: @theculturehigh


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One Comment

  1. Look forward to the new documentary. It must be said that we have a very different cannabis problem in the UK since we seem to have taken a substance that is non-addictive and relatively harmless and turned it into a very addictive and harmful drug. How did we do this? – by mixing our smoked cannabis with tobacco and then inhaling deeply. I have very little contact with cannabis users these days but those I do know seem to accept this tobacco mix as the norm (despite most of them claiming to have given up cigarettes). I would love to know if this is how new users approach the drug or whether it is an old habit routed in the days when only hashish was available and is now starting to die out (I hope so). Either way it makes many of claims for cannabis harm actually relevant in the UK whereas they can be easily dismissed in the US (where tobacco is not usually mixed with cannabis for smoking).

    I am a former addict to that cannabis/tobacco mixture (for 14 years of my life!). I gave up ALL tobacco 10 years ago and then gave up smoking cannabis a year later. I do use a vaporiser from time to time but feel no addiction or compulsion as I used to in the bad old days.

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