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Code of the West

SXSW 2012 film review

Code of the West

Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen Frames a high stakes showdown in the halls of the Montana State Legislature. The future of medical marijuana is at stake. (World Premiere)

Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)

WHO'S IT FOR?: You do not need a strong interest in medical marijuana (or legalization in general) to dive into this pot doc.


With a distinct distance from most of its "characters," Code of the West plays out best as the recalling of a bill being passed more than a soapbox moment begging for the legalization of weed. A large chunk of this movie could be used in schools to show the story of how a bill passes in the state of Montana. As for stimulating discussion about medical marijuana, this film will only send debaters in circles.

There is not much to latch onto in this documentary outside of the issue at hand - the high presence of medical marijuana within the subtle lands of Montana. The film features both sides of the debate - one a lobbyist named Thomas Daubert, the other a concerned mother who makes it her ultimate goal to get a bill passed - but doesn't seem to have a notable amount of access to these people. Daubert gets some development time, but the mother and her group, and ultimately their firm perspective, remains much of an unnecessary mystery. If we see the growers of marijuana, why not more of the meetings and discussions that are held by those who are against medical marijuana? This makes the coverage of the film's inner debate is unbalanced, and with unsatisfying results.

A strange absence from this movie is the inclusion of doctors and their professional opinions. While we get the emotional testimonies of those who rely on medical marijuana, there's a lacking presence of an official opinion about the usage of the drug. Wouldn't a doctor's word of approval be a great help towards the right promotion of medical marijuana? Instead, the lack of this important talking head presence leaves me skeptical - a feeling this documentary would rather not instill in its audience.


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