There have been MANY movies that feature marijuana usage (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_containing_frequent_marijuana_use). They basically all have similar variations on the stoner stereotype.
It’s much harder to find movies that portray the medicinal side of marijuana.
AKA: TEARJERKER: THE MOVIE. A late 90s grilled cheese sandwich of schmaltz and audience manipulation. Susan Sarandon’s the dying mom. Julia Roberts is the titular stepmom. They fight, bicker, and compete until Sarandon realizes she is dying from lymphoma.
When Sarandon finds out that the radiation wasn’t successful and she needs to start chemo, we see her smoking a joint outside. Marijuana helps with the nausea and loss of appetite that chemo causes. It can also give some relief from the pain that cancer brings. She knows she’s dying, but she wants as much quality time with her children as possible. So smoking marijuana helps to give her temporary moments of quality while traveling through the Hellscape of cancer and chemo. It’s a nice subtle, but powerful moment. A responsible and non-judgmental way to show marijuana use in a mainstream film.
This movie is everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with 90s independent films.
Liv Tyler goes to Italy and lives with a bunch of artistic cliches to find out about who her real father is.
One of the people is a writer named Alex Parrish, played by Jeremy Irons. Early on, he asks Tyler’s character if she has any more of those “exotic cigarettes”. So the two of them sit outside and puff a joint.
He smokes the joint to help ease the pain of inevitable death. He’s diseased and declining fairly quick. Some places have said it’s AIDS, but I don’t remember the actual disease being disclosed. He doesn’t seem to have his own medicine, but he appears to know the medicinal benefits of it when he asks for the joint from Tyler. But it seriously improves his condition and the next morning, he’s briefly filled with the energy of life.
Whatever disease is slowly creeping across his life force, it is briefly slowed by the medicinal aspects of late 90s marijuana. It’s not done in a showy way. It’s not glorified. It just happens, and they move on (in a better state of health and mind). Her use of it is casual and recreational. But his use is to briefly improve his quality of life. When we first meet him, he’s so sickly, he looks like Skeletor in a lawn chair and he’s coughing up his insides.
After his marijuana intake, he appears to be a living and breathing human being. And he doesn’t act like some pothead that is distracted by his own fingers.
PIECES OF APRIL
This movie was made in 2003, but it seriously feels and looks like something that was made about 6 years earlier. It’s a cliche “throw a bunch of people together and have them talk incessantly for 80+ minutes” indie film.
A family takes a small road trip to visit the estranged oldest child on Thanksgiving.
The mother, who has a fatal form of breast cancer, won’t make it to another Thanksgiving. They have to stop numerous times on the short car ride so she can take a break (which usually consists of her vomiting in a gas station restroom). At one point, she has her son roll a joint for her as she steals away to another restroom to help ease her intense sickness and pain.
She’s not a stoner. She has a moment afterward in the car when she’s listening to music and then over-analyzing and philosophizing the deepness of the song. But it’s not exploitative or played for laughs. It shows how relaxed she is while facing the inevitability of death. Before this moment, we were shown how much her family obsessed about her well being, and how much she tried to hide it. The aftermath of her restroom puffery is one of the few times she’s truly calm and free of pain – without faking it. She desperately wants to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving with a broken and scared family. She wants them to enjoy each other instead of stressing over their dying mother. And her medicinal inhalation benefits her and her family.
None of these films specifically reference medicinal marijuana – probably because of when they were made. But seeing as how marijuana is usually treated in an exaggerated, loveable, goofy, dimwitted pothead sort of way, it’s nice to see it handled in a mature, progressive, and responsible way.