The Marijuana Conspiracy, directed by Craig Pryce and based on the true story of how Canada experimented with the effects of cannabis upon women during the 1970s. The goal of the experiment is to prove the supposed harmful effects of marijuana. The story is presented through the perspectives and struggles of five young women of varying backgrounds who are trying to get by during those inconsistent times.
John Berrie’s cinematography is masterful. Every scene transition is striking and evocative. From stoking a pipe to the ever-growing contents of an ashtray, The Marijuana Conspiracy visually sets every tone and situation nonverbally and impressively. The wardrobe is beautiful and era correct, though they are a little too immaculate and clean throughout. Rarely is a movie produced like a finely oiled machine, and rarer still does that seamlessness make it to the screen so successfully as this is the case here.
The movie is overall a very well written, precisely executed, and adeptly acted production. The plot skillfully spins various narrative threads and weaves them all together in a very satisfying and organic way. All the while, writer-director Craig Pryce creatively subverts assumptions in exciting ways. Literally, every character I fancied at the start of the movie, I despised by the end. Whereas each person I found off-putting early on, I fell in love with by the end. I honestly cannot remember the last time a film did that for me.
“The goal of the experiment is to prove the supposed harmful effects of marijuana.”
Marie Ward’s performance as Nurse Alice was especially stirring. For much of the film, she is framed as a stern and unsympathetic authority figure, not dissimilar to Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. A comparison spitefully made by women of the experiment throughout the film. Yet by the end, she was one of the most relatable and compelling people we met. She handily became my favorite character and actress of the whole production.
The only real issue I have with The Marijuana Conspiracy is more the fault of Canadian English than the film itself. The characters repeatedly refer to nouns without a pronoun, such as dropping “the.” So instead of stating that they want “to go to the university,” it would be “to go to university.” This admittedly is a baseless, irrelevant, and ultimately pointless complaint. It does not impede the film at all. But this way of speaking has always vexed me about the British and Canadian brands of English.
However, seeing as how this petty grievance is the only thing I can voice as a detraction, then you know The Marijuana Conspiracy worth your time. Take a deep breath and step back in time and experience the hazy world of the 1970s where curiosity is harshed by agenda, and truth came pre-rolled by the establishment.
"…visually sets every tone and situation nonverbally and impressively."