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Code of the West

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At a time when the world is rethinking its drug policies large and small, one state rises to the forefront. Once a pioneer in legalizing medical marijuana, the state of Montana may now become the first to repeal its medical marijuana law. Set against the sweeping vistas of the Rockies, the steamy lamplight of marijuana grow houses, and the bustling halls of the State Capitol, CODE OF THE WEST follows the political process of marijuana policy reform – and the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana growers across the country. This is the story of what happens when politics fail, emotions run high and communities pay the price.


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Code of the West is splendid documentary storytelling on many levels. It captures the full complexity and nuance of the medical marijuana issue without polemics. It's also a wonderful examination of what democracy looks like up close, when citizens acting in good faith fight in support of opposing convictions.
Robert MacCoun, Professor of Law and Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Code of West brilliantly captures Montana's debates on cannabis... Outstanding job... The cinematography is stunning.
Charles Johnson, Helena Independent Record

On display here is a keen eye for the how the legislative process works - and doesn't - and the film does an expert job weaving a compelling narrative... Code of the West is a must-see for anyone interested in drug reform and patients' - or states' - rights.
Jordan Smith, Austin Chronicle

Set against the backdrop of Montana's unique cultural and physical landscape, Code of the West explores the complexity of the medical marijuana debate currently unfolding in many US states. Richman Cohen's focus on the human side of the debacle skillfully navigates the nuances of preemption, discretionary enforcement, and other contours of what is one of today's most interesting regulatory issues. Engaging as it is educational, this film is a powerful tool for exploring the legal, social, and generational facets of today's drug policy debate.
Leo Beletsky, Assistant Professor of Law and Health Sciences, Northeastern University School of Law

  • SXSW World Premeire, 2012
  • Indiewire Article, "Did Rebecca Richman Cohen's Medical Marijuana Documentary Save a Man from Prison?" (Sept 2012)  LINK:
Rebecca Richman Cohen Rebecca Richman Cohen is an Emmy nominated filmmaker and a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School.  Rebecca was profiled in Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces in Independent Film as an "up-and-comer poised to shape the next generation of independent film." She has taught classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and at American University's Human Rights Institute - and she has professional experience in international human rights, criminal defense, and drug policy reform. Rebecca graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and with a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, where she now teaches. She is currently a 2012-2013 Soros Justice Fellow.

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