To the uninitiated, the healing potential of cannabis may seem like a pipe dream for a community bent on legalizing the herb for other than medical purposes. But for those who take the time to unpack the baggage associated with cannabis and take a look at the science, the value of the plant and its proprietary compounds to treat or perhaps even cure disease and promote general wellness becomes readily apparent.
CBD Nation, a new documentary being released later this month, attempts to demystify the medical value of cannabis and serve as an introduction to some of the scientists studying it, as well as a few of the many patients benefiting from its use. And for director David Jakubovic, who said in a virtual interview with High Times that “everything I learned about cannabis was surprising to me,” the experience making the film was as much a journey of intellectual discovery as it was a creative endeavor.
“I had vaguely heard about CBD and really knew nothing about it, other than that it was somehow tied to cannabis,” he explained in an email. “Truth be told, my instinct was that CBD was just another overblown wellness fad. I didn’t think there was anything I could add to the conversation that hadn’t already been covered in other films.”
Because of that lack of understanding and the stigma that continues to haunt the plant, when Jakubovic was approached about making a documentary about CBD and the medical science of cannabis, he was cool to the idea. But those preconceptions began to break down when he saw a TED Talks presentation by Dr. Dedi Meiri, a biologist studying the apparent ability of cannabis to induce the self-destruction, or apoptosis, of cancer cells.
After agreeing to make the film, Jakubovic spent six months interviewing more than 30 physicians, clinicians, researchers, activists, and patients to understand their connection to the ongoing evolution of medical cannabis. He traveled to Israel, a country at the forefront of cannabis research, to learn about the plant’s ability to dramatically reduce the effects of graft versus host disease, markedly improving the outcome of patients who undergo a bone marrow transplant. Other avenues of research, including cannabis as a potential treatment for a host of medical conditions including cancer, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, are also explored.
“The main takeaway is that the science is real and that any stigmas surrounding this plant are not rooted in the reality of the facts and research,” Jakubovic explained. “It’s as simple as that. Cannabis spent long enough in our culture as an unwitting punchline to many. It’s time for it to be presented 100% seriously.”
Film Reveals The Determination Of Pioneering Patients
CBD Nation, however, isn’t only about the nuts and bolts of the scientific research documenting the medicinal potential of cannabis. It’s also a moving tribute to some of the patients with serious medical conditions who found little relief, or even great harm, from the pharmaceuticals routinely prescribed for them. Patients like Jayden David, a young boy whose persistent seizures caused by a rare form of epilepsy were finally quieted by CBD. Or Rylie Maedler, a young girl with a potentially life-threatening and disfiguring tumor that attacked the bones of her face and is now held at bay with medical cannabis. And patients like Colin Wells, a combat veteran with PTSD who was prescribed drugs that made him want to kill himself and has now been able to find peace with CBD.
Jakubovic’s film offers an emotional and personal look at these determined patients and their families, revealing the distress that can be wrought by the knowledge that the one medicine that is effective is also coldly withheld by the government. Jakubovic didn’t set out to be an activist filmmaker when he began the project, but as his work progressed he realized that just presenting the scientific facts about cannabis is a form of activism. Although he wouldn’t presume to tell viewers what they should do with the information presented in CBD Nation, he hopes that the film will inspire enlightened thought and conversation about the plant.
“Everyone’s body and health is sacred to them and it is their choice to figure out how they want to treat it,” Jakubovic said. “What I want is for people watching this film is for them to, after spending 82 minutes watching it, have a brand new area of knowledge with which to think of their own health and wellbeing.”
To his credit, Jakubovic’s CBD Nation has value for viewers wherever they may be on the continuum of understanding in relation to medical cannabis. The film serves as an excellent primer for those just beginning to explore the medicinal applications of the plant, but even those emphatic about the subject are likely to find new information for their arsenal of activism. And most importantly, perhaps, the documentary may have the power to change the minds of prohibitionists whose thinking is clouded by preconceived notions and misinformation.
Mad Machine Films’ production of CBD Nation will be available in North America from video-on-demand platforms and streaming services including Amazon and iTunes beginning on August 25 through a distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures. A trailer for the documentary can be watched on YouTube.