Code of the West

Code of the West

Directed by: Rebecca Richman Cohen
72 minutes

East Coast Premiere


Montana: a state that evokes images of cowboys and wide, open landscapes. In keeping with its free-spirited, maverick image, Montana passed a state law in 2004 to legalize medical marijuana. For the last several years, marijuana growers in the state have operated under a tacit understanding that, although the DEA has the right to raid their facilities under federal law, the organization will turn a blind eye to states that have legalized medical marijuana. But as the production of marijuana grows in the state, the federal threat looms large, and a band of concerned citizens seek what would be the first-ever repeal of a medical-marijuana law in the US.

CODE OF THE WEST follows the 2011 hearings of the Montana legislature as the members consider first reform and then repeal of the medical marijuana law. Director Rebecca Richman Cohen (WAR DON DON, IFFBoston 2010) does not turn away from the complexities of the situation as certain uncomfortable truths become clear: that many of the state’s advocates for medical marijuana favor the less popular idea of complete legalization, that those fighting for repeal have no facts to back up their claims of increased marijuana use by teenagers, and that the many citizens of Montana who use marijuana to relieve pain and lift depression are caught in the middle of a major political struggle.

—Kristina Aikens