Our mates at Vice have today launched Stealthcare, a documentary exploring Australia’s underground medical cannabis community. You can give it a watch below.
Even though medical cannabis was legalised last year, it’s still difficult to access for many who need it. While the government embarks on the long process of implementing a scheme for those beyond the current legislation, many desperate patients have been forced to source medicine from the black market.
In Stealthcare, Vice explores issues surrounding access to medical cannabis by hanging out with illegal growers and the patients they serve. These growers, essentially cannabis enthusiasts, often donate their product for little or no cost, but at great personal risk. Scarred by jealous drug dealers, police raids and government persecution, these “Compassion Clubs” are forced to operate on the black market where they can deliver the welcome medicine to sufferers of all ages and backgrounds, with all manner of serious health issues.
Vice is also screening Stealthcare More info hereat Cinema Nova in Melbourne tonight. .
Producer Andrew Kavanagh said, “Medicinal cannabis is at an interesting stage in Australia at the moment. The government has taken steps to legalise, but not many people seem to be able to access it through legal channels. It’s a surprising relationship that has sprung up between growers, many of whom also service the recreational market, and everyday patients who have been forced to break the law to help themselves to medicine.”
Director Mahmood Fazal said, “These self-described farmers spend their time perfecting the cultivation of a purely organic crop to synthesise into oil. Their obsessive relationship to the plant is esoteric and romantic, they joke to each other about being loners. Every character has their own reasons. These private tragedies are what makes them wake up every morning and work as backyard or bedroom farmers. They have lost hope in the government and have taken it upon themselves to make a difference to patients who believe cannabis has improved their quality of life.”
Stealthcare is the latest in Vice’s “Australiana” series, which looks beyond the pillars of our national identity to present a raw and diverse version of what it means to be Australian in 2017. Previous episodes explore isolated teens navigating family, mental health, isolation and the complicated task of growing up in the burnout feature Rage in the Cage, and life on the Northern Territory’s Tiwi Islands as a trans, indigenous Australian in Island Queens.