For 100 years, Brookings has been known for its in-depth public policy research, primarily shared through reports, books, and events. This year, the Institution has added a new medium to its canon of work: narrative film.
On May 29, Brookings and Variety co-hosted the Washington, D.C. premiere of the Institution’s first documentary-short film, “The Life She Deserves.” The film is an intimate portrait of Virginia teenager Jennifer Collins and her family’s struggle to find a treatment to control her debilitating epilepsy and their fight to change medical marijuana laws. Following the screening of the film—a culmination of more than two years of work between Senior Fellow John Hudak and the Institution’s creative video team—John Hudak, Jennifer Collins, her mother and medical cannabis advocate Beth Collins, and George Burroughs, the film’s director, discussed the role of film in influencing policy and the current picture of state-level marijuana legalization and federal restrictions on the use and clinical research into medical cannabis. Ted Johnson, a senior editor at Variety, moderated the conversation.
Below are a few highlights from the discussion. Full event video and a transcript of the discussion at Brookings are available here.
Compelling personal stories can help drive policy change
In February 2018, Virginia’s General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to legalize cannabis oil for medical purposes. Beth Collins says that in this case the drumbeat of the stories of struggling families was key to passing the legislation. Collins thinks that if people are willing to listen, a personal narrative can help change minds.
Medical marijuana patients are facing obstacles in legal states
With high school graduation just a few weeks away, Jennifer Collins expands on a few of the challenges she is facing while looking to her future. She’s not only concerned about being arrested or failing a drug test; she’s concerned because she might not be able to have her medicine on campus at a university, even in a state where marijuana is legal.
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Published: May 31, 2018