[FILM] GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution…

Cannabis is a divisive topic wherever you live. I live in Norwich, in the east of England, yet I am as attached to the issue as someone with a severe chronic illness in Brighton, or London, or Belfast is. This is because I have made a feature length documentary about this very issue.

To expand: it is about the largely beneficial effect that cannabis has on people with chronic illnesses. Those who feel the war on drugs has prohibited their medicine ever since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed by the House of Commons in 1971.

My name is Dale Beaumont-Brown, and I am the producer/director of GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution

m-s-patient-cannabis-activist-clark-frenchI made GrassRoots because someone with a chronic illness reached out to me 4 years ago, someone who thought they could be a good subject for a documentary. That person was Multiple Sclerosis patient Clark French. My cousin.

After not seeing one another for nearly 15 years we met and Clark described the torrential symptoms MS threw at him day in/day out. A modicum of things stuck out from that initial meeting.

One was the fact he had dropped all prescription pharmaceutical drugs and solely medicated with cannabis to combat those symptoms.

Another was that he and a nationally growing community of chronically ill people were campaigning to repeal the UK laws focused on keeping cannabis illegal.

I needed to start documenting Clark’s story as soon as possible and began filming at the 25th High Times cannabis cup in Amsterdam in late 2012. It soon dawned the exact limitations of Clark’s illness however as 12 hours before our flight he had to pull out due to severe illness.


I went to Amsterdam anyway and conversed with the semi-legal (de-facto decriminalised) cannabis industry, and UK-based cannabis campaigners who had made the trip out there.

What began as a short form documentary exploring Clark’s daily struggle with MS and subsequent use of cannabis to combat these symptoms, quickly evolved as I attended sit-ins, protests, rally’s and even patients homes as people told me their stories to be documented in a social-issue driven documentary.

A feature film was born.


In late 2013 I accompanied Clark to Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California to document how a legal cannabis industry can have (and has been doing since the 1996 passing of Proposition 215) beneficial effects for patients.

It was an eye opening experience and one of the pivotal turning points for the film as the pieces began falling into place for Clark; why on Earth is a system such as this not in place in the UK? His journey once he returned home saw him explore that very question.

GrassRoots develops relationships with the people at the heart of a movement enacting social change. By spending time getting to know why somebody consumes it and documenting their life struggles over 3 years, you can’t help but question the ridiculousness of the current laws that prohibit it.

Therefore, GrassRoots stands not just as a social document but a character study too, one that I think you may relate to, whatever your views on cannabis. When you leave the cinema, or watch it at home, I want you to be shaken by the very real problems people face in getting safe access to cannabis.

Things such as police raids, burglaries, shady, back alley deals, social stigma and the constant threat of imprisonment are issues right at the forefront for these patients as they fight daily to have the choice as adults to determine what is right for them.

So you should be moved to do something yourself; as it is high time for change.

GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution has it’s Northern Irish premiere this week from 7pm – 10pm at The Armagh City Hotel, Armagh City on Thursday 15th September.

Email – rsvpallevents@gmail.com, CALL or TEXT 07895254191 for tickets. The Facebook page for the event can be found here.

This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.

  • Thomas Barber

    We are in the ridiculous and bizarre position where tobacco, a product that has led to the deaths of more people than World war One and Two combined, is perfectly legal, yet a naturally grown plant that has proven to have medicinal benefits to those who have serious injury and the terminally ill is illegal. Multinational pharmaceutical companies and the Tobacco industry are the only people who benefit from this arrangement it is they who pull the strings of those politicians who rather than act for the people act on behalf of global corporations. Like everything else we consume these days its not good for everyone and like every product sold over the counter in chemists or prescribed by doctors there can be side effects some serious some mild but not for everyone. In an age where pre-teenage children are being programmed that its perfectly normal to choose ones gender, in an age where the quality of life is more important than the sanctity of life its time we accepted that when it comes to cannabis, whats best for ourselves as long as it harms no-one else should be the norm and it should be legal.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The Wordsmiths at Gorsemere.

  • Gaygael

    I reserve that like for most of your comment.
    Then the trans dig and then the anti-choice dig. Shame.

  • Shamus

    To deny the public the freedom of choice to use a plant that is scientifically proven to be 114 times less harmful than alcohol is wrong. To justify it through 50 years of lies is deeply worrying. To criminalise people using it as medicine is on a par with IS and the Taliban.

  • Thomas Barber

    No offence intended Gaygael I have loads of gay friends the majority im absolutely sure you would know, if your from Belfast that is. Im simply pointing out that if children are entitled to choose their gender then adults should be entitled to choose whats best for them when it comes to cannabis. Dont know where your getting the anti choice bit from though.

  • Gaygael

    I think I saw you say somewhere that you were north Belfast so we prob know quite a few common people. I presumed the ‘sanctity of life’ was about women having choice on their reproductive healthcare.
    Children do not necessarily choose their gender, more so they are socialised and have physicality of a specific gender.

    I’m a free the weed guy. A ‘green’ in so many ways!

  • Thomas Barber

    I come from North Belfast Gaygael but I live in the West. The sanctity of life comment was about assisted suicide in terminal illness cases etc nothing to do with reproductive healthcare at all but I do accept I might not have made that point as clear as I should above. RE the gender choice –


  • Sir Rantsalot

    Yep. No reason not to make it available for people suffering from those types of illness.

  • Jollyraj

    Well, sorry to be off-message here but what about the rights of people who don’t want to suffer from passively smoking other people’s cannabis? Say, if the guy in the flat below you smokes every day….

  • Oggins


    Are you for real? That is the best point you can raise?

    Unless there is a massive cannabis smoking party down below ya, I think the clue is passive.

  • Jollyraj

    I think your response is typical of the breathtaking arrogance of those on the left who believe in freedom for everyone – apart from those who happen to disagree with them.

    I have friends who live in an apartment in Canada where there is a more relaxed attitude to cannabis anyway. One of their neighbours downstairs smokes (seemingly heavily) every evening year round. Which condemn those living in the immediate vicinity to the acrid stench of it every night. What about their freedom? Don’t care so much about that?

  • Oggins

    Fair from it Jolly, just thought you could of sourced a better argument than that.

    Unless he or she is openingly blowing the smoke under the neighbours door, I would be surprised it is as powerful as you say it is. Who knows maybe your friends are using this as a mask to find fault on their neighbours.

    Does your friends complain about their neighbours who smoke cigarettes? Much more common and just as smelly.

  • Thomas Barber

    There are plenty of cheap enough Vaporizers on the market today Jolly that eliminate the harmful effects from using Cannabis in the manner which you object to and they also dull the acrid stench too but of course there will always be those who use it the old fashioned way.

  • Jollyraj

    Nope – I stayed with them when I was over there. The smell is remarkably akin to a skunk (which also roam around over there) – quite strong, and not really pleasant. And, no, I never heard them complain about any other neighbour issues.

    Interesting that you think the fault likely lies with my friends. You mustn’t blame them for their association with a thick unionist like myself. Not their fault.

    Actually, they are Catholics from the Philippines which (from what little I’ve learned of you) should in your book mean they are automatically in the right, anyway.

  • Jollyraj

    Well, I wonder how it comes that so many people don’t use them.

    For me personally, I would also be inclined towards outlawing tobacco, too, given the damage it does and the costs to society. No fan of alcohol either, but that’s me – perfectly prepared to see that people want it and have a right to do it.

    Problem with all three is that they do negatively affect others.

  • Oggins


    What is it with you!? Always have to bring religion or politics into it..

    Very sad.

    I suggested it could be a reason. Didnt say it was the primary reason.

    Anyway, go and politicised another post.

    Very, very sad

  • Jollyraj

    Ok then – politics aside, given the scenario I described whose rights do you support? The rights of one neighbour to smoke cannabis, or the right of the other not to be forced to share in it?

  • Oggins

    Glad to see you dropped the attempt to bring politics in and personal attacks.

    With that question it would fall under the same application of nuisance laws, be it environmental or other.

    If the smell is as bad as you portray it to be, then there legal action available, that applies to other smells, noise etc.

    My whole point is that the original question should not even be used as an argument against, it had no thought.

  • Mirrorballman

    “Which condemn those living in the immediate vicinity to the acrid stench of it every night. What about their freedom?”

    What if it was cooking Brown fish every night? Now that’s an acrid stench. Do what I do and buy some air-fresher – easy peasy 🙂

  • Jollyraj

    Ah.. the easy arrogance of the left winger..