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TUESDAY, APRIL 3RD, 2007, 7:15 P.M.

Panel discussion to follow with
Dan Bernath, Marijuana Policy Project & Michael Krawitz, Patients Out of Time

A New Feature Documentary from Filmmaker Jed Riffe, Director of Ishi, The Last Yahi

Waiting to Inhale explores the battle between patients, doctors, activists and the United States government over the legalization of medical marijuana. Providing exclusive access with individuals whose powerful stories have never made it to the front pages, the filmmaker takes us inside a world where critically ill patients are arrested at gunpoint for growing the only effective medicine for their pain. These patients speak powerfully of the relief that marijuana has provided them from the debilitating symptoms of terminal illnesses, and question why the United States government continues to resist studies of marijuana’s medicinal properties when significant clinical evidence supports its efficacy in treating symptoms of cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. In response, the government contends that the movement to legalize medical marijuana is only a smokescreen for the legalization of marijuana altogether.

The film looks at the history of cannabis over the past century, documenting how its early use as an ingredient in patent medicines eventually led to its prohibition in 1937. It takes us beyond the commonly known marijuana mythology of the 1970’s to a very different history: young Valerie Corral is thrown by a car accident into a unique position in American legal history; Mae Nutt, fueled by the grief of losing two sons to cancer, becomes an unlikely face in the medical marijuana movement; and Irvin Rosenfeld, a law-abiding youngster with a rare bone disorder, discovers by accident that pot is the only thing that provides him relief. We follow these stories from their beginnings to the present, learn about the rise of the parent anti-drug movement, examine current efforts to legalize medical marijuana under state and federal law, and explore the diverse motivations behind attempts to criminalize the sick and dying for seeking medicine.

The film also presents exclusive access to the first major scientific study of medical marijuana to take place in over thirty years, currently in progress at the University of California, San Francisco. This groundbreaking research, led by Dr. Donald Abrams, tests the ability of marijuana to provide pain relief for patients with HIV and cancer and has added an exciting new dynamic to the debate over legalization. Jed Riffe heads to its core by interviewing Dr. Abrams and patients affiliated with the study.

Waiting to Inhale takes the viewer from underground pot clubs to the United States Supreme Court; from Israeli science labs to government approved marijuana gardens outside London. It features leading experts and researchers from all over the world on both sides of the controversy over the therapeutic potential of marijuana. In the United States, eleven states have passed laws with medical marijuana provisions. Yet use, cultivation and possession - for any reason - remain illegal under federal law. We see the battle from the perspective of those who will be most affected by its outcome, and examine the subjective decisions that determine who is granted access to care. The film does not serve as propaganda for one opinion or another, but focuses instead on the real stories and struggles of people on opposite ends of this provocative spectrum. Above all, Waiting to Inhale opens our eyes to the unique world of individuals enmeshed in a conflict whose stakes are nothing short of life and death.

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