A rare case of an Italian documentary released theatrically (despite right-wing politicos’ attempts to have it withdrawn), “Forbidden Grass” hits theaters as national debate intensifies around the therapeutic uses of marijuana. More interesting for its content than for its workmanlike assembly, the anti-prohibitionist tract takes in many aspects of the 70-year battle to legalize cannabis, intercutting interviews, historical and medical info, and little-known facts with concert footage of Italian bands performing songs inspired by the weed. Local potheads will constitute the main audience, but foreign-language TV and docufests could also be receptive.
Standup comic Paolo Rossi serves as a guide, posing frequently asked questions and voicing common misconceptions that are explained or debunked by interview subjects. These include Nobel laureate Dario Fo and maverick politician Marco Pannella, the latter long active on the anti-prohibition front both personally and through the Radical Party. While some funky graphics might have helped distinguish it from standard TV reportage, the docu remains absorbing and informative as it advocates individual rights.