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Film features growing interest in all things cannabis

A CHANGING TOPIC: An image from Richard Baron's film Marihuana Australiana (2016).
A CHANGING TOPIC: An image from Richard Baron's film Marihuana Australiana (2016).

MARIJUANA Australiana is a 93-minute documentary about the changes in social perception and advocacy regarding cannabis growing in Australia, by Mullumbimby independent film maker Richard Baron.

Baron said the film started as a three-minute university project, and when he started looking into the issue as a film maker, five years ago, almost nobody would advocate for it in front of a camera.

"In Australia everything was very underground but I think that has changed recently and this film is a document of that change," he said.

The film is largely focused around Nimbin and the annual Mardigrass protestival, but it also branches out into other geographical areas.

"It is interesting to note that a lot of the recent developments in this issue, namely cannabis breeding and refinement of the product into something that is medically usable, a lot of that has happened around this region".

The main job to produce the film was to gain access to growers and recreational users of cannabis.

"Getting access to film large crops is not a single task. There is one grower that took me a year and a half to get access to film him, but I'm glad I did because he ended up in jail, so the huge trees are a thing of the past but we got them documented."

"Dealing with some of the ethical concern around talking about use of cannabis on film was a tricky. there is a lot of material that didn't make the cut for that specific reason," he said.

The documentarist said the most surprising issue he witnessed during the shooting was the rise an unlikely catalyst for public opinion around the topic.

"One of the most shocking things I came across in all this was the fact that we had people like those covered in the film, such as (President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation) Alex Wodak, who have distinguished careers as medical doctors in drug and alcohol service in major metropolitan hospitals, who have been talking about this issue, particularly regulating, taxing and legalising cannabis in recreation and medicinal forms, but we didn't listened to them, we listened to Alan Jones, it took an AM radio presenter to talk about the issue for Australian society to listen about this."

  • At the Byron Community Centre on Friday, October 21, from 7.30pm. For details visit bbff.com.au.

Topics:  byron bay film festival 2016 cannabis nimbin whatson



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