'The Legend of 420': Film Review

Courtesy of XLrator Media
A breezy and informative if not terribly enlightening doc for enthusiasts.
10/6/2017

Peter Spirer's doc recaps the state of the union, weed-wise.

A bouncy attempt to get a handle on the fast-changing state of things for pot smokers in America, Peter Spirer's The Legend of 420 wears its sympathies on its sleeve without coming off as a complete lightweight. Though this ground has been fairly well covered in the media as various states have made the drug legal in some capacity, non-smokers will learn a few things here, while enthusiasts will celebrate a world that is just opening up — that is, if our Prohibition-minded new Attorney General doesn't send it back underground.

Though the doc certainly addresses Jeff Sessions and the history of the war on drugs, much of its interest in present-tense law enforcement has to do with the way cannabis-friendly rules are drawn. For example: As states like Colorado and California create a huge market for legal, open sale, what are the social ramifications of denying sales permits to those with drug convictions on their records? (Which is to say, the experts in the field.)

Much more familiar are the arguments about the relative dangers of pot and alcohol, with tired-if-true complaints about how many deaths each year are related to drunk driving or booze-fueled violence, while the stoned tend to relax. The latter point is made in jokey anecdotes by standup comics at a place called The Comedy Joint, which the film returns to often. (The pot-driven comedy here is miles better than the pot-themed songs.)

Spirer isn't incapable of seriousness. He talks about veterans using pot to fight PTSD. He interviews a family who think of themselves as cannabis refugees, having transplanted themselves to Colorado in search of legal cannabis treatments for their son, whose epilepsy is so severe it threatened to kill him. Melissa Etheridge, one of many musicians here, says the herb was "a big part of my recovery from cancer."

But often, even very big topics are given just a minute or two of screen time. In the film's final third, we find out what the rush was, as Spirer starts visiting the new crop of pot entrepreneurs. With long looks at haute-cuisine edibles, infused coffee, vape pens and a smoke-tastic B&B, a boosterish tone makes the doc feel like a sneaky infomercial or a Denver Visitors' Bureau film. But maybe anybody who thinks that just needs to lighten up and take a hit.

Production company: Head Gear Films
Distributor: XLrator Media
Director: Peter Spirer
Screenwriter: Michael Andrews
Producers: Kelly Bevan, Peter Spirer
Executive producers: Phil Hunt, Compton Ross
Director of photography: Eric Anderson
Editor: Ryan Bloom
Composer: Shahead Mostafafar

86 minutes

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