Cannabis is growing in popularity as more and more states are legalizing the use of marijuana. Another compound of the cannabis plant, CBD, is also making a name for itself in the wellness industry with products like tinctures and CBD capsules on the market. Therefore, it’s no surprise that cannabis films are also seeing a surge in popularity. These flicks, also known as stoner movies, are usually fun and absurd comedies in which the main characters spend a good part of the film high on weed.
These protagonists are usually dudes who are likeable, yet a little dumb. Movies of this genre have gained a cult following since they first entered the scene in the 1970s.
They’re still a fun romp in cinematic circles, and a lot of folks seem to love them. If you’re into such films, or even if you’re totally new to them, you’ll want to check out this list of 10 cannabis movies that changed the game. These are the must-see films that have made a big name for themselves in the industry to become cult favorites.
1. Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke
Up in Smoke came out in 1978 and is probably the first stoner film to hit the big screen. It was directed by Lou Adler and stars the world’s best-known stoners, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Also in the movie are Stacie Keach, Edie Adams, Tom Skeritt and Strother Martin.
This is Cheech and Chong’s first movie after they’d started working together about ten years earlier. It helped to propel them further into beloved stardom, along with a number of other cast members. Up in Smoke was not well received way back when it was released, but it is heralded as a cult classic and launched the beloved genre known we all know and love.
The film’s plot, if you want to call it that, centers around Chong’s character, Anthony “Man” Stoner. He’s an out-of-work pot smoking drummer who has to get a job by sundown or be shipped off to military school. The rest of the film centers on the hilarity that ensues when Stoner meets up with Marin’s character, Pedro de Pacas.
2. Pineapple Express
Directed by David Gordon Green, Pineapple Express was released in 2008. It stars some big names in movies and in stoner films. These include Seth Rogen, James Franco, Rosie Perez, Gary Cole and Danny McBride.
In the film, Rogen’s character, Dale, becomes buddies with his weed dealer, Saul (played by Franco). The pair are brought together when they witness the murder of Saul’s drug supplier. Things would be okay except for the fact that the messed up dudes leave some tell-tale evidence, a rare marijuana strain known as pineapple express, at the crime scene. The rest of the film follows them and their associates as they try to evade the killers who are onto them.
3. Half Baked
This 1998 classic directed by Tamra Davis ushers in Dave Chapelle. It also stars Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, Guillermo Diaz and Clarence Williams III. Like most smoker movies, this one centers on a group of buddies, led by Chapelle, on a quest. This time, the ragtag bunch are on a mission to get their buddy out of jail. You won’t want to miss a beat.
Friday is another cannabis-themed movie from the ‘90s. It was released in 1995, directed by F. Gary Gray. It stars the iconic Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, along with Nia Long, Tom Lister Jr. and John Witherspoon. Ice Cube not only acts and raps, this film was co-written by him. His story really centers on the characters and their neighborhood. You’ll love getting to know this gang of misfits and will find yourself quoting them long after the credits roll.
5. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold and Kumar are legends in the stoner genre. That’s because they have a series of well-known flicks. This one is probably the cult favorite, though. Made in 2004 and directed by Danny Leiner, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle follow the weed-smoking title duo as they head out for the night to grab a bunch of sliders to satisfy their munchies.
Their epic journey brings them into an encounter with Neil Patrick Harris and then getting attacked by a bunch of raccoons before finding themselves in jail. You’ll definitely want to check out this romp starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Paula Garces, Anthony Anderson and Fred Willard.
6. The Big Lebowski
Anyone who considers themselves a film buff knows the legendary directorial team of the Coen Brothers. The Big Lebowski is one of the most-loved films due to its crazy antics and renowned character, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges. Also in the movie are Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston and John Turturro.
The Dude is a washed up hippie who spends his life drinking White Russians, smoking joints and bowling. While it doesn’t have much of a plot, it does have a dedicated following who love it.
7. Dude, Where’s My Car?
Dude, Where’s My Car? Is a another one from the 1990s directed by Danny Leiner. Its stars are heart throbs, Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott. Kristy Swanson, Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff round out the cast. As the name implies, this whole movie follows the main guys as they search for Kutcher’s car. While in their stoner stupor, the fellas get the most ridiculous tattoos, along with a series of other incidents you won’t believe.
8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Here’s one from the ‘80s. Amy Heckerling directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High back in 1982. Some big names were introduced, including Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates. This raunchy film is set, of course, in a high school. It follows the adventures of the surfer dude main character, Jeff Spicolo, played by Sean Penn. Yes, there’s a goofy teacher and a hot babe in a bikini, played by Cates. This one’s well worth a watch.
9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Terry Gilliam directed this 1998 stoner classic starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. It’s based on the Hunter S. Thompson novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. It’s set in the 70’s, but follows the main characters as they embark on a journey in Las Vegas, all while lamenting the loss of the best moments of the ‘60s. Of course, all the while, the duo is stoned out of their minds.
10. Mall Rats
Kids of the 1990s will remember the 1997 classic, Mall Rats. This one is directed by Kevin Smith and stars Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Claire Forlani. The plot centers around two young dudes (potheads, of course) who are both dumped by their girlfriends on the same day.
The boys then head to the local mall to try to have some fun and take their mind off their troubles. You can only imagine the kind of craziness they encounter. This film features those famous characters, Jay and Silent Bob, so you know it has to be a keeper.
There you have it, this list of the best stoner movies ever made. You’ll want to check them out if there are any you’ve missed.