The Union – Business Behind Getting High
Canada, 2007, 105 min
Directed By: Brett Harvey
“Ever wonder what British Columbia’s most profitable industries are? Logging? Fishing? Tourism? Ever think to include marijuana? If you haven’t, think again. No longer a hobby for the stereotypical hippie culture of the ‘60s, BC’s illegal marijuana trade industry has evolved into an unstoppable business giant, dubbed by those involved as ‘The Union’. Commanding upwards of $7 billion Canadian dollars annually, The Union’s roots stretch far and wide. With up to 85% of all ‘BC Bud’ being exported to the United States, the BC marijuana trade has become an international issue with consequences that extend far beyond our borders. When record profits are to be made, who are the players, and when do their motives become questionable? Why is marijuana illegal? What health risks do we really face? Does prohibition work? What would happen if we taxed it? Medicine, paper, fuel, textiles, food… are we missing something?
Highly entertaining as well as informative, The Union takes a look at British Columbia’s ever-expanding marijuana industry. Beginning with a brief history of the use of marijuana in North America, director Brett Harvey takes us on a journey that includes interviews with growers, clippers, criminologists, politicians, doctors, police officers and pop culture icons to illuminate the business of BC bud and how it is that such a powerful industry can function so successfully while remaining illegal. With enormous profits to be made, he questions who benefits the most from the current state of affairs and comes up with some not-so-surprising answers.
In examining more closely the propaganda of the anti-marijuana lobby, some unexpected facts and figures surface regarding the health risks of marijuana as well as the economic, agricultural and societal benefits of growing hemp, and the current laws prohibiting such crops in North America. As an industry that brings in seven billion dollars annually, the business of growing and distributing marijuana is even more profitable for those involved on both sides of the law due to the prohibition. The Union is a fascinating and in-depth look at one of BC’s most profitable industries and the players involved, from the growers and dealers to pharmaceutical companies and builders of private prisons.”
Winner, Outstanding Documentary Feature, 2007 Winnipeg International Film Festival.
This film is nominated for the National Film Board’s Best Canadian Documentary Award.
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In the official website of Canada’s government, Department of Agriculture, there’s a good report on the situation of hemp nowadays:
As the world’s premier renewable resource, hemp has been the source of food and fibre for the past 10,000 years. Hemp fibre has been used to make clothing, ropes, and paper; the grain has been stewed, roasted, and milled for food; and the oil derived from the grain has been used for cosmetics, lighting, paints, varnishes, and medicinal preparations.
Like the marijuana plant, industrial hemp belongs to the species Cannabis sativa L. However, unlike marijuana, it only contains small quantities of the psychoactive drug delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Nevertheless, the cultivation of both marijuana and industrial hemp were banned in Canada in 1938.
Since 1994, a small number of Canadian companies, as well as Canadian universities and provincial governments have researched industrial hemp production and processing. Due largely to their initiative, the 60-year ban was lifted and the commercial cultivation of hemp was authorized in Canada in 1998. The Industrial Hemp Regulations came into effect on March 12, 1998, and cover the cultivation, processing, transportation, sale, provision, import, and export of industrial hemp.
Since its legalization, hemp has sparked much interest among Canadian farmers. The Government of Canada has been very supportive of Canada’s re-emerging hemp industry through changes in legislation and regulations, and through market development funding. Today, hemp is enjoying a renaissance, with the global hemp market becoming a thriving, commercial success. More than 100 Canadian farmers are currently taking advantage of the vast market potential for hemp and are growing this crop in most provinces, primarily in central and western Canada.”