Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein
Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein
A look inside WEED THE PEOPLE: an award-winning documentary from filmmakers and health choice advocates, Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein.
Medical marijuana has the potential to save lives, but existing legislation prohibits millions of Americans from experiencing the life changing benefits of cannabis as a cancer treatment. From filmmakers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, Weed The People is an award-winning documentary about health equity and the booming green economy that will challenge everything you might have know about cannabis.
This look beyond politics and propaganda reveals the brave stories of ordinary families who are exploring the benefits of medical marijuana to save the lives of their most precious loved ones – their children.
How the film began
Seven years ago, when Ricki Lake competed on the TV show, “Dancing with the Stars,” her most ardent twitter fan was a 7-year-old girl who was undergoing chemotherapy. Ricki fell in love with this little girl and dedicated herself to finding a cure for her genetic tumor disorder.
Serendipitously, Ricki’s husband Christian, had been doing research on the anti-tumor properties of CBD (a compound in the cannabis plant) to treat his grandfather’s bone cancer. What if CBD could slow the growth of this little girl’s tumors? One phone call later, Ricki and Abby were on a plane to Mendocino, filming the child’s consultation with a cannabis physician and Weed the People was born.
The journey of making this film was thrilling and heartbreaking. Ricki and Abby have grieved and celebrated with five extraordinary families while documenting their bleakest and brightest moments. Filming took them from the pediatric oncology wards of California to the research labs of Israel, in search of the most advanced cannabis science.
Weed The People challenges our notions of what defines a drug versus a medicine. We all have the right to access natural medicines that are potentially life-saving. These are basic human rights that institutions should not have the power to take away.Executive Producer, Ricki Lake
CANNABIS SCIENCE BASICS
Since the 1960’s, when Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam isolated THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the cannabis plant, scientists have been studying how the various compounds in cannabis called “cannabinoids” interact with animals and humans on a cellular level. In the 1980’s the “endocannabinoid system” was discovered, which significantly enhanced this biological research.
The endocannabinoid system is present in all animals and humans and has a critical function of restoring balance to the body by modulating the other systems. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of a series of receptors located throughout the body. The compounds in the cannabis plant act on these receptors in the same way that opiates work on the human opioid system.
For a long time, THC was the only known active cannabinoid in the plant, famous for creating a psychoactive effect. But soon researchers began discovering other therapeutic cannabinoids like CBD, (cannabidiol) a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant which is not psychoactive.
Twenty years ago, when scientists in Spain and Israel were doing metabolic studies with cannabinoids, they discovered that these compounds (THC and CBD) were killing cancer cells in the lab and reducing tumor growth in mice. Several studies were done looking at the specific way that cannabinoids “kill” cancer, through a process called “Apoptosis.” Essentially, cancer cells multiply because the body loses the ability to recognize them as rogue cells. Cancer cells “hide” from the immune system and do not self-destruct. But in the test tube, cannabinoids somehow give the cancer cells back this ability to self-destruct, called “Apoptosis.”
It’s a startling discovery, because the cannabinoid compounds send chemical messages to the body to leave the healthy cells intact and “reveal” the cancer cells as foreign so that the immune system signals to destroy them. These studies have recently moved into human clinical trials combining cannabinoids with chemotherapy drugs for enhanced results. It is believed that the cannabis helps the chemo drugs to work more effectively while also mediating the harsh side effects.
Although patients are experiencing anecdotal success using cannabinoids in combination with traditional cancer treatments, most oncologists are unfamiliar with how cannabis works against cancer and wary of prescribing it for anything other than palliative care.
Our film could not be more timely as health equity and the green economy become critical issues in 2019. We believe the documentary’s important educational message could have a huge impact in the national debate.Director, Abby Epstein
MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATISTICS
- Twenty nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws since 1996 legalizing the use of medical marijuana for qualifying patients under state law.
- In states with medical marijuana access, it appears that overdose mortality rates are almost 25 percent lower than in states with no legal access to marijuana, and the reductions immortality rates strengthened over time.
- Legal access to medical marijuana has been associated with a 23 percent reduction in opioid dependence or abuse-related hospitalizations and 15 percent fewer opioid treatment admissions.
- A study of chronic pain patients found that using medical marijuana was ultimately associated with a 64 percent reduction in prescription opioid use among members of the sample. Another found a 44 percent reduction in prescription opioid use after using medical marijuana for chronic pain.
- GW Pharma recently concluded a Phase II study in GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumors treated with standard oral chemo TMZ or temozolamide). The control group received TMZ only and had a 44% 1-year survival rate. In contrast the THC: CBD plus TMZ group showed a 83% 1-year survival rate with a median survival over 662 days compared with 369 days in the control group.
Weed The People challenges notions of what defines a drug versus a medicine. Ricki and Abby hope that by sharing these stories of devoted practitioners and brave parents fighting to heal their children, we can hold the government accountable for criminalizing the one plant that could save them.
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Buy or Rent on Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2EQsGWw