|Will This Documentary Push Medicinal Cannabis Into Mainstream Australia?
Australia’s relationship with medicinal cannabis is messy.
Legalised in 2016, the drug has been lauded as a miracle by patients, while the system developed by the government to prescribe it has been criticised at almost every turn. Red tape, bureaucracy, complex process – you name it, the medicinal cannabis community has dealt with it in the last three years.
‘High As Mike’, a new documentary that chronicles the journey of Tamworth man and brain cancer patient Mike Gallagher as he questions how medicinal cannabis might help him, could be what politicians and the general public need to see.
Activists and professionals constantly criticise the processes surrounding medicinal cannabis in Australia, and a growing number of GPs want to prescribe the drug but have no education on how they can or when they should. ‘High As Mike’ is a ride-along journey where the audience is privy to the nation’s chaotic regulatory regime, while also featuring almost every major figure within the cannabis (medicinal and otherwise) in the country.
From the bearded nature-first community of Nimbin, to Sydney University, to the international offices of Canadian experts, Gallagher even makes contact with Olivia Newton-John – who uses medicinal cannabis – and her husband, John Easterling, a longtime cannabis activist.
Lucy Haslam, one of the public faces of medical cannabis reform features in the documentary.
With Scott Morrison and the Coalition winning the latest election, medicinal cannabis activists and doctors calling for reform know that the road ahead is tough. Both the government and the Labor Party have been careful in openly discussing the drug – Minister for Health Greg Hunt would have you believe everything about the system is great, while Bill Shorten’s Labor only announced its medical cannabis policy via change.org in the final days of the campaign.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing activists is the separation between recreational and medicinal cannabis, something health professionals in the space are always quick to lean on. The mantra “this isn’t about getting high, it’s about getting well” may as well be stamped on every doctor’s forehead. Much of the general public still does not understand the difference between the two, and why a regulated medicinal supply is a necessity, separate to the conversation about recreational use.
Now that ‘High As Mike”; is out, no politician, reporter, writer, or member of the public with even a cursory interest in the drug has an excuse. The information is out there – and it’s not even hard to find anymore.
‘High As Mike’ is screening in independent cinemas across the country, and the filmmakers are also encouraging the public to organise their own screenings.