Code Of The West: documentary about medical marijuana


Three years ago, I set out to tell the human story behind America’s failed War on Drugs and the state-by-state battle over regulation of medical marijuana. My research brought me to Helena, Montana where a battle was unfolding. I met Tom Daubert, Chris Lindsey and Chris Williams and heard about Richard Flor, co-founders of a medical marijuana business called Montana Cannabis that was trying to create a model for responsible caregiving in compliance with Montana state law, even wh
ile others were fighting to repeal that law. I started to shoot their stories for the documentary film CODE OF THE WEST.

Three years later, we’ve finished a first cut of the film and it premiered to critical acclaim in March at SXSW. But like many documentaries, the story lives on after the cameras stop rolling, and there have been significant developments since our premiere.

Since we premiered at SXSW, all four men have been indicted by the federal authorities, despite the state laws protecting their livelihood.

Chris Williams is currently behind bars. He was convicted on federal charges that carry a mandatory minimum of 80+ years in prison. Tom Daubert is serving five years probation after his defense lawyers used the film at his sentencing hearing. And Chris Lindsey is waiting for his sentencing hearing.

But it’s Richard Flor’s story that is most devastating. Sentenced to five years, he died tragically in federal custody this August.

Their stories are tragic examples of a sad reality: Even though 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and an overwhelming majority of Americans support these laws, law-abiding citizens in those states are still arrested and imprisoned by federal authorities every year. When it comes to drug policies, our justice system is unjust.

We need your help to update CODE OF THE WEST and bring these stories to a national audience.

We just got back from shooting in Montana and now we’re going back into the editing room to add these vital updates from Tom, Chris and Richard’s stories to the film. By telling their full stories, we can extend the impact that the film has already made and give it a much better chance of being aired on national television, bringing their stories to millions of homes and people who can act on their behalf.

The first version of CODE OF THE WEST has already played at dozens of film festivals, colleges, and grassroots screenings in towns and cities across America. These screenings have helped spark productive cross-partisan discussions about marijuana laws and are building a movement of organizers, advocates and informed citizens committed to reforming drug policy.

We’re raising more than $30,000 on Kickstarter to help us build on this momentum and use the film to fight for sensible drug policy reform so that medical marijuana growers like Chris Williams never have to face an 80+ year prison sentence again.

The campaing closed on December, 5 and we did it!! Wow, there are no words left for the gratitude we are feeling right now. Nearly 500 people from around the world made this possible with small donations of $25, $50, $100… and now we have the strength of that community behind us as we move into the next phase of making CODE OF THE WEST. Thank you for making this possible by spreading the word and pitching in.

In the final hours of this campaign, we’re setting a reach goal of $35,000 to cover the added costs of Kickstarter fees and credit card processing fees. If we can reach that goal, we can put the rest of the money directly into editing!

How the money will be spent?

1. Hire an award-winning editor to update the film with new scenes. If we’re successful, the new cut will be ready by Spring 2013!

2. Work with our current partner organizations, as well as engage additional organizations and influencers, in order to build the grassroots campaign to reform these failed drug policies and bring the film to cities and towns across America in 2013.

by Rebecca Richman Cohen