Cannabis isn’t the reefer madness your grandma made you believe! Welcome to Higher Education, a column that investigates – and destigmatizes – marijuana in movies.
When you think of a stoner film, what comes to mind? Is it a couple of potheads questing for the perfect meal? Maybe some hazy buddies, lost in a cloud of smoke, just trying to find their car? But then where do these stoner archetypes leave all of the THC-soaked noirs, or the experimental films made better when viewed through marijuana goggles? Hell, where does it leave the outdated morality tales that propagated exploitation cinemas in the late 1930s?
The fact is there are no Dogme 95-style rules as to what constitutes a stoner film or not. And by focusing on the stereotypes of the subgenre, we’re actually narrowing our vision of what these niche films can actually be. Personally, I find that the stoner film encompasses what the viewer brings to it. Namely, cannabis. But also an array of expectations that prime us for the film experience we’re looking to have.
Do you want to watch a film filled with stunning visuals and pulsing music, made for the audience to get lost in? There’s a stoner film for that. Maybe you want to experience a psycho head trip or watch something so silly it transcends to genius? There’s a stoner film for that, too. Looking for a bouncy comedy that you enjoy communally, flowers passed back and forth amongst friends? There’s definitely a stoner film for that. Simply put, to embellish a quote from Jon Stewart in Half Baked, any movie can be a stoner movie…on weed.
But because the stoner film spans multiple genres and eras, defying classification, it’s a bit of a fool’s errand to say one film is better than the other. Besides, ranking a list of stoner films sounds like a sure-fire way to harsh your buzz. So in the spirit of harmony and straight chillin’, we present to you twenty of our absolute favorite films.
Published: April 12, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News