The Marijuana Conspiracy. 2021
Written and Directed by Craig Pryce.
Starring Brittany Bristow, Morgan Kohan, Julia Sarah Stone, Kyla Avril Young, Luke Bilyk, Alanna Bale, Hannah Vandenbygaart, Tymika Tafari, Derek McGrath, Greg Calderone, Paulino Nunes, Marie Ward, Alex Harrouch, Jordan Todosey, Howard Hoover, and Nell Verlaque.
In 1972, young women looking for a fresh start in life endure isolated captivity in a true 98-day human experiment studying the effects of marijuana on females.
Julia Sarah Stone is signing up for another study here in The Marijuana Conspiracy (following her outstanding performance in the recently released sleep paralysis chiller Come True), this time in 1972 as Mary and to become data on the effects caused by the titular drug, specifically starting out with women aged 18-24. She’s even playing the same kind of drifter character that essentially lives on the streets without an actual home to call her own, so free communal living for 98 days (three months of smoking capped off by an eight-day detox period) and a fat paycheck sounds pretty good.
The study is headed up by Ontario premier John Bradow (Derek McGrath) enlisting a team of specialists to watch over, analyze, and tend to the needs of the participating women. Obviously, this story (which is actually based on real events) comes at a time when the stigma for marijuana was high, so if the results don’t swing the desired way, of course, the Canadian government will simply cover it up. That’s where the conspiracy part comes in, but you would have to be illiterate in terms of both watching movies and the effects of marijuana to find any of that remotely shocking. The Marijuana Conspiracy has no real intrigue, whether it be events during the study or about the characters themselves or government meddling, ending on a staggeringly limp note. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 50 years and don’t realize alcohol is more harmful than marijuana (this film really loves to state the obvious), there is absolutely no reason for this movie to exist.
If you’re hoping to learn anything interesting about marijuana usage itself, nothing really stands out here either. The women are tasked with smoking weed and making macramé for work (part of the study involves how increasingly getting high affects their work ethic), and while the overwhelming amount of consumption over 90 days temporarily breaks each of them down in different ways (it could be psychologically, their respiratory system, or something else) they continue to bond as a unit and stick together. If one of them feels mistreated and threatens to walk out on the study, they all do.
As for the women themselves, none of them have anything intriguing going for them despite the heaps of backstory they all receive. Generally, each person is in it for the money and either looking to start a business, travel or go to college. Loneliness also serves as a temptation for one of them to flirt with a staff member. Amusingly, there is a mental ward in the building opposite the study center which two of the women kindly interact with for fun, which is also the only laugh in the movie. Clearly, the story is not meant for laughs but writer and director Craig Pryce cycles tones so often it’s hard to tell what the movie is even going for, especially considering the conspiracy is all the way off camera. It’s like watching a movie about journalists uncovering something shocking that doesn’t actually have a focus on journalists doing any work.
Aside from how amateurish and unfocused The Marijuana Conspiracy is, the final deathblow comes when the story starts shifting away from the subjects to focus on one of the nurses outed as gay by the homophobic psychiatrist. If that wasn’t enough, the little revelation leads to another reveal of astoundingly lazy writing. The central premise is inherently intriguing and the first half is mostly tolerable, but at unacceptably over two hours long and with no point, by the time the 98 days are up, you’ll also be ecstatic to leave.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com