That’s the point that filmmakers Michael W. Dean (DIY or DIE) and Neema Vedadi make in Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom, a documentary decrying gun control and the war on drugs. They do it with quick history lessons on marijuana prohibition and early gun control laws; interviews with proprietors of marijuana dispensaries, a former sheriff and a slew of others; and satirical skits depicting what interaction with agents of the U.S. government might look like in the context of those issues. It also takes a few jabs at taxes and seemingly needless government regulation (such as on the sale of raw milk). Guns and Weed is a convincing argument that our rights are not separate, but rather all-or-nothing, and the only way to keep any of them is to defend them all.
There are some pretty heavy issues in this film, and the skits keep it from getting bogged down and boring. It’s a fine line to walk, trying to keep the film upbeat without weakening the message. I think they nailed it. The sound track was really awesome with some punk and hip hop music videos by Dean and Vedadi in the breaks between sections. The film kind of went back and forth between medical marijuana and gun control for a little while, then started bringing the two issues together with this quote from Shane M. Scheid:
One of the problems with having Democrats in power is that they’re in love with this idea of civil liberties, but they don’t understand that you can’t have civil liberties without economic liberties. And vice versa, the Republicans are in love with their version of economic liberty, but they don’t understand that you cannot have economic liberty without civil liberties, that they’re really two halves of the same concept or two sides of the same coin.
The film then really begins illustrating that all liberties have to be preserved for any of them to be preserved.
There were several interviewees, and they were listed in the credits, but I would have liked to have seen people’s names when they first appear in the film. Not really a big deal, but a minor annoyance. I was excited to see they interviewed Sheriff Richard Mack. I always like what he has to say.
Gun rights activists and marijuana law reform activists are often seen on opposite ends of the political spectrum. This film wants them to get over their differences so they can come together for their common good. Are they ready to do that?
Guns and Weed: The Road to Freedom will be released to the educational market in March 2011 and the general public in March 2012. Watch the trailer here.