Woody Harrelson - Cheers legend, True Detective alumnus and long-time mouthpiece for the magnificence of relentless marijuana use - has shocked bong-heads the world over to announce the dissolution of his relationship with marijuana. One that ended close to a year ago.
Harrelson, along with Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson, Bill Maher, Seth and Joe Rogan, and of course, Snoop Dogg, has long been a high profile advocate of the world’s most controversial/bodacious weed. He’s been heavily into the stuff for the past 30 years, and for the past 15 has served on the advisory board for NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).
He even contributed vocals to Ziggy Marley’s pro-growing track, “Wild and Free”. As you can imagine, he’s the last stoner you’d expect to give up the green.
But those in the anti-cannabis club planning a fiesta in the man’s honour might want to cancel their order for a Rampart-shaped cheesecake. His decision is not a carpet-bombing of the substance’s use, but rather, its misuse.
Harrelson told Vulture: "When you’re doing it all the time, it just becomes… well, you know. I feel like it was keeping me from being emotionally available.”
The actor's weed experience is indicative of a pervasive problem the world over – unbroken consumption outside the recreational realm to the point where all that’s left are negative, life-sucking effects.
“I don’t have a problem at all with smoking. I think it’s great. I think it’s a great drug, in terms of… Even cops say that the side effect is euphoria.”
Nothing in Harrelson's words suggest he’s reversed his position on the human right to personal freedom and autonomy.
The most positive thing to come out of a famous stoner maligning weed’s misuse is that it draws attention to the "right" way to consume the plant. Emphasis can be placed on the scientifically supported positive effects of cannabinoids on a grand gamut of physical illnesses, including anorexia, emesis, pain, inflammation, neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease), epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis, obesity and cancer.
In Australia, as in a long list of nations, medical use of cannabis oil is a contentious practice. But those who’ve seen its effects first-hand tend to consider it ludicrous to keep it from becoming standard practice due to what's basically a modern extension of Reefer Madness-related paranoia.
Helen Kapalos, the Channel Seven current affair reporter who began investigating this contention in the form of a documentary, ended up quitting her coveted, high-paying job as host of Sunday Night and crowdfunding the remaining budget in order to give the project the time it deserved.
A Life of its Own dives head first into the controversy. The documentary exposes audiences to living examples of the benefits of medical marijuana, while exploring the forces that seek to keep the treatments at bay. She highlights the baffling resistance to a substance that has in many cases been labelled as a "miracle" by those who’ve used it correctly - as medicine.
Despite what many would like to admit, the tide is (slowly) changing when it comes to the cannabis plant. As Harrelson can contest, there’s no denying there’s a wrong method to and motivation behind the ingestion of ganja, but the long-held view that it’s only ever destructive is akin to warning against medical use of anaesthetics.
Hopefully, as more science surfaces, and as more people are educated through cold, hard evidence, then the powers that be will stop looking at the topic as black and white, and see the green in between.
A Life of its Own airs on Sunday 9 April at 8:30pm on SBS.
For SBS VICELAND’s exploration of cannabis in its many forms, check out Weediquette on SBS On Demand. Watch the first episode right here: