Entertainment Reviews


It’s Just a Plant: A Children’s Story of Marijuana

2nd Edition (April 20, 2006)

Author/Illustrator:  Ricardo Cortes.

Publisher:  Magic Propaganda Mill.

The world of children’s literature has covered just about every subject under the sun, from globalism to post-traumatic stress disorder to gay parenting. With It’s Just a Plant: A Children’s Story of Marijuana, we finally have a book to help parents teach their kids the unapologetic facts about cannabis.  

It’s Just a Plant begins with a young girl, Jackie, walking into her parent’s room after bedtime and discovering them smoking a joint. In just this opening scene, author/illustrator Ricardo Cortes confronts a reality that simply can’t be ignored:  With more than 6 million American parents admitting to having smoked pot last year, sooner or later the kids are going to ask questions about “that funny smell.” 

Jackie’s parents seize the moment as a teaching opportunity, taking her on a journey that reveals the nature of cannabis, the reasons why people use it and even law enforcement’s attitudes about the plant. Her parents’ physician explains to her that cannabis can be used both as a medicine and a recreational drug, and is definitely not for children (“Marijuana is for adults who can use it responsibly” the doctor tells her. “It gives some people joy, but like many things, it can be used too much.”)  

Beautifully illustrated and set in modern urban locales, It’s Just a Plant is designed as a read-aloud book—a tool for helping parents speak honestly with their children  about their cannabis use. It retails for $15 and can be found at www.justaplant.com. Cannabis activists and health organizations are encouraged to email the publisher through the website for wholesale discount information.





T.H.C. (The Head Change)

Artist:  Inhale.

Label:  Independent.

Few Southern California bands have shown their support of cannabis as much as Inhale, and with T.H.C. (The Head Change), the indie reggae fusion quartet gives us an intimate look at how it all began. The first six songs are among the first the group ever recorded, including embryonic versions of “The Way” (“The youth of today/ they’re still looking for a way”) and the jazz-acidic “That’s Life.” While having steadily turned out great music since forming in 2005, Inhale legitimately refers to T.H.C.—compiled in 2009—as their first release.

For the uninitiated, the 10-track collection is the perfect introduction to Inhale’s bluesy ska-punk style. For the band’s huge regional following, it’s nothing short of a jewel box full of rare gems. A recording of the band on a Palm Springs radio morning program slips breezily into an acoustic version of “Don’t Take”—a song so beloved of fans that two arrangements of it appear on the release. One of the constants throughout T.H.C. (The Head Change) are the deceptively simple lyrics driving home Inhale’s ultimate message:  The head change has come—marijuana is here to stay




High: The True Tale of American Marijuana

Director/writer/narrator:  John Holowach

Studio:  Holowach Films

When the first narrative words of a documentary are peppered with the pronoun “I,” you can expect what follows will be a highly personalized account of the subject at hand. Such is the case with High: The True Tale of American Marijuana.  Ostensibly an examination of cannabis prohibition in the U.S., the film frequently shifts—and, occasionally, meanders—into a treatise on what appears to be director/writer/narrator John Holowach’s true heart’s desire—wholesale drug legalization.

Using government anti-drug propaganda reels and interviews with pro-legalization voices like NORML founder Keith Stroup, Holowich fires broadsides at a target-rich environment of pet peeves—including the Bush II Administration, the radical drug-rehab outfit Straight Inc., and the marginalizing effects of America’s drug wars on its drug-using population.  

Holowach is most effective when he allows the government’s own actions and deeds to make his points for him, as when he opens the film with George W. Bush’s recorded admission of cannabis use. Lacking, however, are consistent production values (audio and lighting problems plague otherwise fascinating interviews) and an ability to maintain focus. Topics at hand swing wildly from the evils of cannabis prohibition, to the wonders of hemp, to the evils of hard drug prohibition, and back to cannabis prohibition.   

Overall, High is a flawed but sincere and informative entry in the pro-cannabis documentary genre, and definitely worth a look. 

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