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Mission: Marijuana

Alyssa Jaffer | February 22, 2012 | Story Reviews

Last Saturday, the S.F. Indie Fest premiered California, 90420 at the Roxie in the Mission. If you’re curious about the daily life of a pothead, the whims of a pot grower–musician, the legalization struggle, and the effects of medical marijuana, read on. The documentary traces the relationship between four Bay Area individuals and marijuana, focusing on recreational use at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, which offers classes exclusively about weed.

The film’s main subject is Oaksterdam student Alix Miranda, aka “Ix,” a self-proclaimed stoner whose requirements for employment include permission to wake and bake and smoke on the clock, and immunity from complaints about the stench of pot surrounding her. She’s serious about her commitment to weed, declaring, “Everything in this world will reject you or die…except marijuana.” But by the end of the movie, she’s pregnant and realizes there’s more to life than getting high.

Other characters include a pro-marijuana activist who battles to pass 2010’s unsuccessful Proposition 19, and a cancer patient who uses medical marijuana as an alternative treatment to invasive surgery.

Dean Shull hopes his film will appeal to more than just Northern California stoners. He’s also aiming to reach more conservative viewers by sharing insight into the many perspectives within the cannabis debate—what Shull calls “subcultures within a subculture.” He intended the film to be “a vérité look into the lives of people [and] didn’t want to be soapboxy.” Yet for all the montages of pot plants and people taking bong rips, there isn’t much footage of the opposition to legalization. Shull gives us plenty of interesting details about the characters’ personal lives but no coherent narrative about the larger issue at hand.

The film’s international release in select theaters is on—you guessed it—4/20.


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