Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law
This provocative and powerful documentary explores the conflict over the legalization of medical marijuana in the United States. Ten states have passed legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana. Yet all marijuana use, cultivation, and possession — for any reason — remain illegal under federal law.
Produced with great sensitivity and compassion by noted documentarian Jed Riffe, “Waiting to Inhale” investigates a world in which critically ill patients are arrested at gunpoint for growing the only effective medicine for relieving their pain. These patients speak eloquently of the relief that marijuana has provided them from the debilitating symptoms of terminal illnesses, and question why the federal government continues to resist studies of marijuana’s medicinal properties when significant clinical evidence supports its efficacy in treating symptoms of cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma. In response, the government contends that the movement to legalize medical marijuana is merely a smoke screen for the legalization of marijuana altogether.
“Waiting to Inhale” takes the viewer from underground pot clubs to the United States Supreme Court, and from Israeli science labs to government-approved marijuana gardens outside London. It features leading experts and researchers from all over the world on both sides of the controversy over the therapeutic potential of marijuana. The film also surveys the history of cannabis use and attitudes toward the drug in America, and examines the results of the first major scientific study of medical marijuana to take place in more than 30 years, currently in progress at the University of California, San Francisco. This groundbreaking research, led by Dr. Donald Abrams, tests the ability of marijuana to provide pain relief for patients with HIV and cancer and has added an important new dynamic to the debate over legalization.
“Waiting to Inhale” sheds new light on one of America’s most contentious conflicts. The film will engage students and generate thought and discussion in a variety of courses in sociology, psychology, American studies, public policy, public health, medicine, and law. It was produced by award-winning filmmaker Jed Riffe. It is closed-captioned.