by Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus
On the heels of a fantastic test screening we had of our new film Legalize It at the Irvine United Congregational Church of Christ last Saturday, we are reminded what got us into this project in the first place. As in our previous documentaries, we followed those people because we felt they are fighting the good fight.
That’s why it’s not as surprising as it may sound that churchgoers would fill a screening (we had a full house!) of a ‘potumentary’. It’s because our protagonists are fighting for change: changing our society from a punitive to a compassionate one, and that is something churchgoers can relate to.
As we sat on the panel discussion with two of the film’s participants, retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray (also the Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee in 2012) and retired law enforcement Lieutenant Diane Goldstein, it was interesting to hear the audience responses which ran the gamut of connecting the marijuana policy issue to the failure of our health system, all the way to the question of when will our DVD be released . . . to which we could only reply with a long sigh.
Apropos, millions around the world are celebrating today, 4/20 aka April 20 . . . Global Weed Day. It’s kind of surreal when you think about how many people are (and have been for years) celebrating their fondness of an illegal activity connected to an illegal plant. Is there any other legal plant in the world that gets so much attention and respect? One wonders why so many people are willing to risk arrest, criminal records and even going to jail for the sake of an illegal plant. After working on our film for over three years, we actually understand and the audience at the church I believe can now understand as well.
However, the risk might be getting smaller thanks to the latest development in the world of drug policy reform: “Russell Simmons Rally Celebrities And Civil Rights Leaders To Help Obama Change Drug Policy” (Huffington Post). The coalition included Will Smith, Ron Howard, Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson and many more.
This news item didn’t just stay with the regular news outlets that feed the news junkies. It was also picked up by news sources covering entertainment and that brought the story to the mainstream majority, many of whom usually don’t care about politics or breaking headlines. Even Perez Hilton posted on his website a story about it: “Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian & More Join Russell Simmons To Urge Obama To End The War On Drugs!”
In the past Hollywood quietly endorsed marijuana policy reform by glamorizing it in movies, TV and songs. But since it was so controversial, there were only a few industry professionals and celebrities willing to publically stand behind the issue. But now, as the group of supporters calling for change is growing, it is empowering more people within Hollywood to come out and have their voice heard.
The Marijuana Spring we predicted in our last story is starting to bloom.