Is ‘The Other Side of Cannabis’ Documentary the New ‘Reefer Madness’?

A winner of the best feature documentary award at the 2015 Sunset Film Festival in Los Angeles, “The Other Side of Cannabis – The Negative Effects of Marijuana On Our Youth” is now a focus of R.I.S.K. (Resources, Information, Support and Knowledge). R.I.S.K.’s specific agenda is hard to pin down. They claim their efforts are entirely to protect our youth from potential negative effects of marijuana use at a young age. However, there is no real push on their part to have marijuana federally rescheduled.

Rescheduling marijuana would open the door for more rigorous research on cannabis that could lead to definitive evidence of the negative long term effects of juvenile marijuana consumption, if there really are any. Ultimately, while their beliefs about the long term negative impacts of marijuana use at a young age could be correct, their beliefs are as anecdotal as nearly any claim about marijuana. Do you think this new documentary amounts to nothing more than more propaganda similar to the “Reefer Madness” movie of 1936?

The documentary “The Other Side of Cannabis – The Negative Effects of Marijuana On Our Youth” will be screened from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, at Sebastiani Theater. The Sonoma Community Health Center is sponsoring both the documentary and the speaker, documentary producer Jody Belsher.

Following the film, there will be a panel discussion focused on the issue of “edibles.”

The film looks at today’s marijuana through interviews with researchers and other professionals, as well as individuals whose lives were negatively impacted by the drug.

Parents are urged to bring their teens to the screenings as the film is geared to youth, educators, medical and health professionals, counselors and media, in addition to recovery/treatment center programs, behavioral health departments, law enforcement, and others who influence our youth.

The film won best feature documentary at the 2015 Sunset Film Festival Los Angeles.

“R.I.S.K.’s intent is to educate parents and to bring relevant issues to the forefront for discussion,” says founder Leslie Nicholson. “I think we all agree that keeping our kids safe is a high priority.”

Film interviews include treatment center directors, researchers, therapists, individuals and family members, among others.

One of the key suggestions in the film is that there be different names for marijuana.

“Our children believe all marijuana is medicinal,” says producer Belsher. “Let’s stop calling CBD (the anti-psychoactive compound in marijuana that holds promise medicinally) by the same name as the psychoactive THC forms of marijuana.”

The film is not focused on legalization nor medicinal marijuana treatments, however.

According to Belsher, the independent film was created by ordinary citizens with no political or economic affiliations or interests, other than bringing attention to the negative effects of marijuana on today’s youth — adolescents, teenagers and young adults whose brains are still forming.

“In order to make an informed decision to use marijuana, it is important to know the potential risks,” says Belsher.

The documentary explores the concern that smoking or ingesting marijuana regularly can lead to severe mental health effects, particularly for adolescents and young adults whose brains are still forming.

“While components of marijuana (CBDs) may have an appropriate usage as a medicinal treatment for those in need, there is another side that must also be evaluated to protect those who are vulnerable,” says Belsher. She believes that a significant percentage of the population who use marijuana will become physically dependent on the drug.


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