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According to The Hemp Revolution, “rich and creamy hemp ice cream” is just one of the many things we are missing out on because of cannabis sativa’s outlaw status.

Yet most of the information presented in Anthony Clarke’s documentary is common knowledge. The Australian filmmaker, who won an Oscar for 1993’s The Panama Deception, makes failure to utilize the plant seem downright un-American: He points out that the Declaration of Independence was printed on paper containing hemp, that the coverings on pioneers’ wagons contained hemp, and that original Levi’s jeans were made from recycled sailcloth which, of course, contained hemp. And Thomas Jefferson? “The first hemp activist.”

The film would be more effective if it proclaimed itself pro-hemp at the outset. Instead, it is styled as an unbiased investigation. Pot-puffing demonstrators make sweeping claims for the plant, only to have the narrator cut in with the sober qualification, “…of course, some of these activists may have ulterior motives….”

The film documents hemp’s use throughout history, as well as its capacity for use as fuel, medicine, and food, and as a component in paper and textiles. (Interviewees see it totally replacing both the petroleum and lumber industries; one has even designed edible hemp fast-food containers.) Revolution is most provocative when it chronicles the demonization of hemp in the 1930s, which it attributes to “industrial espionage” on the part of big businesses threatened by the plant.

Predictably, Revolution romanticizes marijuana’s psychoactive effects. (This section is interspersed with groovy footage of a naked woman cavorting in a field.) Says longtime pot activist Terence McKenna, “If you don’t use marijuana, you may spend the evening balancing your checkbook; if you do use marijuana, you may spend your evening contemplating the causes of the Greek renaissance.” Or, um, eating Oreos and watching television.CP