After nearly two months of quarantine, global populations are getting more and more anxious to leave lockdown. Unfortunately, data shows that the coronavirus has yet to run its entire course. Leaving lockdown too soon could still be disastrous. Thank goodness for strong pot and excellent entertainment, right?
Related: The Top 15 Stoner Movies To Watch
To help readers make it through the final stretch, Strain Insider has curated some of the top cannabis-related books and movies. That’s not to say that Tiger King isn’t also an excellent alternative, it’s just not long enough.
For more inspiration, here’s our guide to 25 books and movies to keep you high.
25 books and movies about cannabis to keep you busy during the quarantine
- The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture by Julie Holland (Book/Non-Fiction)
If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge base on all things cannabis, look no further than Julie Holland’s magnum opus. The author brings together all the most relevant voices from the frontlines and behind the scenes. The advantage of this particular volume is that it offers all sides of this fascinating sector.
Already read it?
Recommend it to a neighbourhood politician, activist or even budding agriculturalist. There’s truly something for everyone in these pages.
- Pan’s Labyrinth (Film)
A dark and weird adventure for dark and weird times, Pan’s Labyrinth is a fantasy ride through the mind of a master filmmaker. While the thrust of the story follows a young girl through a dream-like landscape, the foreground is nothing to neglect.
Set in Spain in 1944, the totalitarian overtones are eerily reminiscent of the direction a few European countries are heading towards.
- Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France by David A. Guba (Book/Non-Fiction)
Unfortunately, professor David A. Guba’s novel has yet to be released. But from snippets, Guba’s investigation discusses the roots of France’s obsession with cannabis, specifically hash. As the source for much of the hash was North Africa, a region dominated by French colonisation, the cannabis derivative became associated with other unsavoury sentiments.
For a quick primer, check out Strain Insider’s brief history of French cannabis.
- Shaun of the Dead (Film)
A 2004 cult classic, rewatching Shaun of the Dead reminds that British culture isn’t all biscuits, tea and Brexit.
The story follows the lives of two close friends who by some miracle of fate manage to evade contracting a virus that turns people into zombies.
Not for the faint of heart, this brilliant comedy pays homage to film history, slashers and the great walking dead.
- Black Hole by Charles Burns (Graphic Novel/Fiction)
Another pandemic-inspired bit of culture, this graphic novel takes place in Seattle in the mid-1970s. Not only does author Charles Burns capture pot culture among the suburban youth, but he also ties in a fast-spreading disease.
It’s American culture at its dark best. If anything, it’s a great gateway item to get started reading graphic novels.
- Easy Rider (Film)
Somewhere between a hippy and a libertarian cowboy is the easy rider. This film falls smack dab in the cultural aftermath of America in the 1960s. Themes of freedom, individuality and pure curiosity follow two bikers as they trace the United States to get to New Orleans.
Along the way, they bump into every slice of life that the U.S. had to offer at the time, and not every encounter is positive.
- The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Graphic Novel/Fiction)
Along with cannabis, French culture also has a special place for graphic novels.
Part of this soft spot for comics comes thanks to the early work of Jodorowsky, Jean Giraud (Moebius), Zoran Janjetov, José Ladrönn and Yves Chaland. This group of illustrators, storytellers and colourists set the bar high with the creation of The Incal.
Parts sci-fi, western and opera, The Incal follows John DiFool, an intergalactic private investigator in his search for truth and the powers of the Incal crystal.
- Castle in the Sky (Film/Anime)
What’s a quarantine with recommendations from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli? With all of his films now on Netflix, viewers can explore the studio’s work beyond hits like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.
A young boy and girl are pursued throughout the film by statists and pirates alike. Each party is in search of the famed castle in the sky and a curious locket found around the girl’s neck. Less fantastic than Miyazaki’s later work, Castle in the Sky reveals the illustrator’s deep roots and love of flying.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (Book/Non-Fiction)
Kingsolver’s book is a homage to localism, plucky DIYers as well as supply chains. Yes, those supply chains.
All those products you have stockpiled and conserved from the grocery store likely travelled hundreds of kilometres so you could enjoy them.
This book reveals that there is an alternative. And with Europe investigating how to limit its reliance on Chinese industries, it comes at a very important time.
- Pineapple Express (Film)
Although it’s not quite a classic, Pineapple Express belongs to the long list of great stoner comedies. It also breaks down the barrier that, yes, you can become best friends with your dealer.
- Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties by Lizzie Post (Book/Non-Fiction)
Although pot in Europe doesn’t enjoy the same legal status as it’s North American counterpart, a wave of incoming regulations makes Post’s book necessary reading.
She writes about how users can be respectful when the rest of the party isn’t a fan of cannabis. Post also digs into the nitty-gritty of cannabis gift-giving and the differences between consumption methods.
No, don’t worry, there’s no reference to raising a pinky when passing a joint. It’s far more practical than that.
- Super High Me (Film/Documentary)
Gonzo journalist and comedian, Doug Benson, goes on a health journey akin to the original Super Size Me.
Like the original, Benson spends one month pot free to create a baseline constant for his health. Then he spends another month in which he consumes cannabis every day.
The results and learnings along this most excellent of experiments are eye-opening.
- Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Book/Fiction)
The original trippy novel, Umberto Eco’s work is a cerebral fantasy laced with black humour, revolutions and a whole lot of conspiracy.
If you’ve never read any of his work before, start with this or with The Name of the Rose.
- Murder Mountain (Series/Documentary)
This Netflix original documents the good, the bad and the ugly of legalising cannabis. In North California, on so-called Murder Mountain, growers and libertarians collide with state regulations. And once the state legalises the green plant, not everyone can afford to play by the rules.
The series follows the nuance of legislation and how good-hearted business owners were eventually crushed by expensive regulations.
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Book/Non-Fiction)
With restaurants closed around the world, this is a perfect time to reread Bourdain’s cooking classic. The autobiography recounts the spunky chef’s early days as a pirate captain at the head of a rough and tumble outfit of other cooks on the East coast of the United States.
Despite the majority of the book taking place in America, Bourdain also reveals his rich French roots and describes the bane of hard drugs.
- Akira (Film/Anime)
Nothing says quarantine like the end of the world in this dystopian anime set in Neo-Tokyo. Released in 1988, Akira follows the lives of several teenagers in a biker gang that stumble upon a secret military project. The story paints a dark and twisted future. With such striking illustrations, however, it’s hard to look away.
- The Great Adventure: HP and Giuseppe Bergman by Milo Manara (Graphic Novel/Fiction)
The Italian comic book artist Milo Manara is actually much better known for his erotic illustrations. Instead, this short graphic novel takes readers through a dreamlike adventure. A master storyteller, Manara offers newcomers to the genre a glimpse into the power of comics and the medium’s ability to lace frame-by-frame illustrations with text.
- American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar by Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb (Graphic Novel/Non-Fiction)
Harvey Pekar would be no one without the illustrations of the infamous Robert Crumb. In the early days, before American Splendor became the cult classic for which it is now known, Pekar simply wrote the text above stick figures.
Legend has it that he peddled these short stories to illustrators all over the midwest in the 1980s. Crumb was the only one who found them funny. Turns out Crumb was right.
- Airplane! (Film)
This comedy reminds viewers of the golden years of airplane travel. Not only could passengers still get a tour of the cockpit, but everyone smoked, danced disco and had mastered the art of puns.
The original slapstick, Airplane! shows that humour and disaster are a match made 11,000 metres in the sky.
- The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys by James Fadiman (Book/Non-Fiction)
As cannabis has effectively entered the mainstream, many are attempting to bring psychedelics along with it. James Fadiman offers a clear, concise study of how mind-altering drugs can be used to help a plethora of psychoses. It is also from this book that the trendy practice of micro-dosing became popular.
Despite the title, the book is less a guide and more an entry point into the discussion. Stay safe, and do your own thorough research.
- Amadeus (Film)
Turns out the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wasn’t much for discipline or straight-shooting. This film tells the story of the life and times of classical music’s original punk rocker. Even in 2020, pink hair is still far from the norm, right?
- Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase (Book/Non-Fiction)
Thanks to COVID-19, the Internet has been awash with ‘nature is healing’ memes. Wild cougars roam cities in Canada and the canals of Venice have welcomed dolphins.
Peter Frase takes this a few steps further. He describes four possible conclusions from capitalism’s current trajectory. Some are darker than others, but the editor of Jacobin pulls no punches when describing the stakes.
At a slim 150 pages, Four Futures: Life After Capitalism could be the tipping point for the capitalist sceptics among us.
- Enter the Void (Film)
Argentinian culture has a funny habit of producing interstellar and mind-bending art. Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void is yet another example of this tendency. The saga opens with the swift death of the film’s drug-peddling narrator and then follows his spirit throughout Tokyo for another two and a half hours.
It’s a lot to take in given the unusual nature of the film, but for intellectually nimble, Noé’s work is truly unforgettable.
- Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder (Book/Non-Fiction)
The Beat Generation of the late 1950s wasn’t all about sticking it to the man. It also gave rise to some of the most powerful environmentalist literature of our time. Practice of the Wild is composed of nine distinct essays written by the acclaimed American poet much later in his life.
It describes an interconnected philosophy of man, nature and the wildness that is life itself. An essential read as we slowly leave lockdown and head back into outdoor lifestyles.
- The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac (Book/Fiction)
But, before we reinvent our relationship with our environment, there’s still time to hang out in dark, smoky bars and contemplate the greater passions of human nature. Kerouac’s semi-fictional tale follows a young man as he skates through the Bohemian underground of San Francisco.
Stay safe, stay indoors
Hopefully, this list of books, graphic novels and films will keep you busy as humanity rides out the rest of quarantine. It should also be said, that this is also a great time to catch up on much of the cannabis content on Strain Insider.
Stay safe, stay indoors (for now) and keep washing those hands. See you on the other side!