Kings of Cannabis_, our documentary about weed kingpin Arjan Roskam and his quest for the rarest strains._
Humans have been getting high for as long as there have been humans, but in the past few years, a series of debates on drug policies have spread around the globe, charging the subject with a sudden urgency. Can powerful substances normally used for recreation be used to treat mental illness and addiction? Does arresting and prosecuting drug dealers really lead to a safer world? What should we do about new synthetic drugs that can turn people into empty husks of addiction? Is marijuana actually an incredibly potent medicine? Why is marijuana illegal, anyway?
We've been delving into these issues for years, sending our far-flung correspondents to talk to not just policy experts but dealers, users, manufacturers, and everyone else who has a stake in the global drug economy. Below are a sampling of our favorite drug-related videos.
The Real Walter White?
When AMC's Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, one of Alabama's most successful meth cooks was already knee-deep in building a massive meth empire. His name? Walter White. In this documentary, Walter told us the secret behind his product, how he stacked up thousands of dollars a day, and why his partner is now serving two life sentences.
Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, but there are still use cases that are very controversial, like medical marijuana for children. Some claim it's a wonder drug for epilepsy, severe autism, and even to quell the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, while others decry pumping marijuana into still-growing bodies. We went to the small town of Pendleton, Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal, to visit Mykayla Comstock, an eight-year-old leukemia patient who takes massive amounts of weed to treat her illness.
The Cannabis Republic of Uruguay
At the end of 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. VICE correspondent Krishna Andavolu headed over to Uruguay to check out how the country is adjusting to a legally regulated marijuana market.
Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor
Greece's infamous new drug, sisa, is basically meth and filler ingredients like battery acid, engine oil, shampoo, and cooking salt. The majority of its users are poor, often homeless, city dwellers reeling from the psychological and physical impacts of a country in the grip of economic collapse.
Getting High on HIV Medication
In 1998, the antiretroviral drug efavirenz was approved for treatment of HIV infection. Though the drug was highly effective, patients soon began to report bizarre dreams, hallucinations, and feelings of unreality. When South African tabloids started to run stories of efavirenz-motivated rapes and robberies, scientists began to seriously study how efavirenz might produce these unexpected hallucinogenic effects.
In this doc, correspondent Hamilton Morris travels to South Africa to interview efavirenz users and dealers and study how the life-saving medicine became part of a dangerous cocktail called "nyaope." He even tracks some down and tries it himself.
You can watch a bunch more VICE documentaries here.