‘The Doctor’—A Documentary About a European Pioneer in Cannabis Legalization

A new documentary film about one of the stalwarts of the German and European cannabis legalization discussion, Doctor Franjo Grotenhermen, premieres in Amsterdam on June 3.
Doctor
Courtesy of The Doctor film

It doesn’t feature any supersonic jets or red carpets and Tom Cruise is nowhere to be found. Despite this, a new film, The Doctor has been racking up accolades on the international film festival circuit.

That said, if there was a person in the European cannabis industry who has always taken a “highway to the danger zone” albeit of a medical kind, it would be Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen.

The film, directed by Eduardo Hernandez, is a biographical look at the life of Franjo so far. And that is certainly an interesting journey. Per Hernandez, “Anyone who knows Franjo knows that his story is incredible. He is a person who has dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of patients and pushing the boundaries of science. As a filmmaker, it seemed to me that the general public would be interested.”

Who Is Doctor Franjo Grotenhermen?

The elevator pitch on Franjo, as he insists on being called, is easy to do in just three words. Pioneering cannabis doctor.

Yet this is still a fairly radical proposition, particularly in Germany, but also, rather sadly, still pretty much everywhere else too. As a result, this description also means a great deal, even today, as the medical profession as a whole still struggles with overcoming the stigma surrounding the efficacy of the plant.

Grotenhermen’s is certainly a dramatic story. From the beginning, Franjo, who also suffers from a debilitating condition himself, has put himself at the forefront of the fight. In Germany that is still a highly hazardous place to live and work.

“The goal was to reach an audience that is not academic and that does not know what medical cannabis is,” said Hernandez by email when reached by High Times.

The film takes place during the 10th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine, right before the onset of the Pandemic in late 2019. The IACM, which Franjo also helped found, has been one of the most influential global medical cannabis conferences for several decades. The Doctor also features interviews with among others, famed Israeli cannabis researcher, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.

So far, The Doctor has made the festival circuit (even winning quite a few awards) and is about to have its world premiere this Friday, in Amsterdam before continuing on an international journey that is literally taking its message around the world.

Doctor
Courtesy of The Doctor film

Doctors Are Still on The Frontlines of The Medical Fight

While it is unfortunately still not common knowledge, doctors have frequently paid a heavy price for being cannabis advocates. This was certainly true in places like California as prescribing doctors could have their licenses stripped for prescribing the drug (thanks to the Clinton Administration, both before and after the historic vote in California in 1996).

That threat has never really gone away in many places. Indeed, in Germany over the last five years since “medical reform” doctors are visited frequently by the police who are still conducting “investigations” that all too often leads to interrogations of both patients and doctors if not arrests, criminal charges, and jail time.

Franjo has never wavered from the challenge or the path. Indeed, he went on a hunger strike in 2017 over the restrictive language in the first medical cannabis reform legislation in Germany, which to this day prevents the majority of patients who need the drug from accessing it (legally).

It is often a thankless journey.

The Doctor, beyond being a biographical profile of one of the most fearless medical crusaders for cannabis reform, is also an educational look, and from a medical and scientific perspective, of the importance of reform on the eve of what is hoped will be full and final German cannabis legalization.

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