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'Culture High' lights up familiar pro-pot positions

 'Culture High' lights up familiar pro-pot positions
A scene from "Culture High." (Handout)

The advocacy documentary "The Culture High" devotes about half of its running time to marijuana and the rest to tangents and conspiracy theories on the drug's criminalization.

As expected, the film touts marijuana's medicinal benefits and favorably compares the health hazards of pot with those of cigarettes and alcohol. The film equates marijuana's 77-year ban to Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s, and it portrays societal ills — the enrichment of cartels, the overpopulation and industrialization of prisons, the militarization of local police departments and even the underfunding of public schools — as side effects of marijuana being illegal.

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Director Brett Harvey has gotten the documentary look and format down pat, complete with generic and gratuitous nature and cityscape shots. Where he shows an amateurish hand is in the term-paper-like voice-over narration and the inclusion of underqualified talking heads. Comedians, rappers, bloggers and TV hosts — Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Joe Rogan among them — frequently undermine legitimate medical and legal experts.

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"The Culture High"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 2 hours.

Playing: At Laemmle's Royal, West Los Angeles.

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