Former talk show host Ricki Lake has produced a new documentary, Weed the People, and she recently revealed the inspiration behind the film.
Weed the People explores the lives of families who utilize "cannabis oil from underground sources" to treat their children who are stricken with life-threatening cancer. Speaking to PopCulture.com, Lake explained that the inspiration of the film is "the craziest story", adding, "When I say it out loud it sounds like it's made up, but it's not."
"I was on a show called Dancing with the Stars, and a little six year old girl via social media found her way to me. Her mother had reached out, she was my biggest fan, and next thing I know, and she had a disease, she had this disease called NF1. So we moved this girl and her mother into our house for six weeks," Lake explained.
"We moved a stranger — she was from the Midwest — and we moved them in and kind of took them on this journey to alternative medicine. We looked into cannabis for this little girl. She was being treated with chemotherapy, and chemotherapy was like killing her," Lake went on to tell PopCulture. "I mean she was this little tiny 30 pound thing, and I can't explain why I moved a stranger into my house."
Ironically, Lake added that the young girl "didn't end up in the movie...but that's what started us on this path to making this film about children with cancer and cannabis as being a way of helping their healing."
Speaking about how the film handles the sensitive topic of marijuana legalization, Lake explained that it "is solely about children with cancer, so it totally takes the stigma away."
"This is not about legalization, it's not about recreation, it's about the healing properties of this plant and what it is able to do for children where they're left with nowhere else to turn," she continued. "I think our film does a real service in trying to take away the stigma and focus on this being a human rights issue."
Weed the People was an official selection at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, and screened at the Nashville Film Festival on Sunday, May 13 and Monday, May 14. It will be shown next on June 9 at the deadCenter Film Festival.
The film is produced by Lake and directed by Abby Epstein, who also directed The Business of Being Born.
Lake went on to say that "it's really important" to her that they take the film to areas where "this plant that grows" is considered a "scheduled federal one drug."
In addition to the young girl, Lake also opened up about her late ex-husband, Christian Evans, who was also a big inspiration for the film.
"This 100 percent would not have happened without him. It's dedicated to him. He's a producer on this movie. Truly this journey, this wasn't my medicine, this wasn't my, where my interest was, like I didn't know anything about it," Lake shared with PopCulture.
She revealed that, while he was not diagnosed with cancer, "he was bed bound a lot with his issues. With you know, chronic pain and migraines, and he had ADHD, and he was bipolar, I mean he had so many things."
Lake explained that Evans was "constantly spending time on the computer researching," remedies, specifically Cannabidiol, when the young girl and her family came into their lives.
"I didn't know any children with cancer personally struggling. I mean I just didn't know, and he embarked on this path that I went along with him and it turned into this beautiful film," she continued. "I'm super proud of it."