Back in October 2012 I was at the tail end of an enormously busy year and had just spent 5 weeks editing the Vegas2Venice project. I was shattered to be truthful, but as always I am always hungry for a new project. I had recently got back in contact with a cousin of mine who I hadn’t spoken to in years. I had no idea he had been diagnosed with the neurological condition Multiple Sclerosis 2 years previous at the age of 24. His name is Clark French.
He had told me about his illness and how he used Cannabis to combat his symptoms. In fact, as it turned out he was/is actively campaigning for its legalisation and had featured quite a lot in some rather well regarded media outlets. You can see Clark talking about whether ‘…drugs is always bad for the soul?’ on Channel 4’s 4Thought.TV by clicking this link. Amongst other things Clark is also South Regional Admin in charge for the UK Cannabis Social Clubs, Medical Campaign Director for Norml UK, founder of Action4MS and a regular blogger/writer. It was around this time in late 2012 that many things were happening worldwide and in the world of Cannabis legislation. In the USA states of Colorado and Washington a system to regulate Cannabis was passed and became law. Other countries like Holland already had a regulated system in place and in general it seemed like a time of political and social reform for Cannabis legislation the world over.
So it was Clark French who in essence brought me into this world of medicinal Cannabis users. Through Clark I have been able to meet many users (recreational and medicinal) and activists. As the rest of the world was changing/revolving it seemed like the perfect time to begin filming an independent feature length documentary about what is going on in the UK at the minute within the Cannabis activism movement. I was and am in the privileged position to take a look behind the scenes at some of the people within the Cannabis community who are actively campaigning.
So it was in November 2012 that I began filming this documentary in Amsterdam, Holland. I was meant to meet Clark there and follow him around on a 6 day trip but unfortunately his condition took a turn for the worse and he couldn’t make it. So there I was in another country, by myself with lots of interviews set-up with people I didn’t know in a environment that I was really quite ignorant about. Very fortunate for me however that the people I went to meet and speak to were lovely and very welcoming of this particular English ‘outsider’ with a camera and a bunch of questions.
I managed to speak to Wernard Bruining who opened the very first coffee shop ‘Mellow Yellow’ in 1972. There was Nol van Schaik, who owns two coffee shops and was one half of the team that opened the coffee shop ‘The Dutch Experience’ in Stockport, UK in 2001 too. I also attended the High Times 25th Anniversary Cannabis Cup and its closing party where I spoke to lots of people within the Cannabis community. A lot of the people I spoke to were recreational users but most were medicinal, hence this documentary.
Recently, we attended the 1st ever Berkshire Protest Picnic in Reading, this was an opportunity for the Berkshire Cannabis Community (and anyone else who uses Cannabis) to coalesce in one place and consume it publicly. It has since had some media attention and has sparked up more protest picnics around the country. We will be there at the 2nd one on September 7th as it’s an opportunity for us to meet the people there and speak to them about why they consume Cannabis and what they do for the Cannabis activism movement.
What is important for us at Elixir is that we make a film that is non-biased; a film that you can watch and make up your own mind. It is not our job to have an agenda, merely report and document what we see and hear. What’s most important though is that we make an interesting film about an interesting group of people. This to me makes for an interesting human rights documentary about a sub-culture within our own and one that I want to get out to as many people as possible. Look out for incremental updates about our involvement with the project and keep an eye on our twitter feed for more.
If you know someone who uses Cannabis medicinally or indeed you campaign or use it yourself for medicinal purposes then send us a message via our contact form; we’d love to talk to you.
Dale – @ElixirMediaProd