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Student Film About Marijuana In Amsterdam Accepted To Film Festival

How have you been spending the past year? Perhaps you’ve met a few friends, joined some new clubs, and slogged your way through a couple of classes. But you probably didn’t spend the last twelve months working on a documentary about the marijuana industry abroad — that is, unless, you’re film student Shane Robinson.

Last November, Robinson was accepted into a May-mester class offered by the College of Communications. This class culminated in a week-long trip to Amsterdam. This expedition was no vacation, however. This class’ students spent plenty of their time researching potential topics and resources, months in advance.”I began researching this documentary last November,” Robinson said. “And I just added the finishing touches to it about two weeks ago.”

amsterdam5The film students pose for a picture on their bicycles.

And once they arrived in the Dutch capital, the work really began. Time was precious, and these young movie-makers were busy buzzing around, planning interviews, and shooting plenty of scenes– all while trying to adapt to their new European surroundings.


Robinson carefully films a scene across a canal in Amsterdam.

Robinson took a particular interest in the cannabis culture in Amsterdam, and focused his film on the medical marijuana business. He reached out to almost 30 of Amsterdam’s ‘coffeeshops,’ the marijuana emporiums for which the Netherlands’ capital is known. Robinson only heard back from a few of these establishments when he first began his project. “My classmate and I spent a day bicycling through Amsterdam in the pouring rain trying to hunt down these locations,” Robinson said. “Internet connection was poor, so navigation was often a struggle.”

However, Robinson’s luck changed when he heard back from Greenhouse, a leading figure in the marijuana industry. From there, he was able to make enough connections to plan interviews and tours of the establishment.

Despite stereotypes, the Greenhouse in Amsterdam is much more than simply a Dutch coffeeshop. With four locations around the city driving their business, the corporation also owns a liquor label, a fertilizer company, and conducts medical research.  Robinson’s documentary, “They Need Us” focuses on this company, highlighting everything from the stores’ culture to the struggles of the large company.

joose amsterdamGH Medical Director of Science, Dr. Joose Heeroma, with the Greenhouse company

“Where some businesses saw a city ready to house their marijuana dispensary, the Greenhouse saw the opportunity to put themselves on the forefront of the medical marijuana business. However, their research is currently being suppressed by an unsuspecting source,” the documentary explains.

Robinson was able to dive deep into the works of Greenhouse, learning everything there is to know about the medical marijuana business.

“What people don’t know is that weed isn’t legal in Amsterdam,” he said. “There are specific rules and regulations, and the government only tolerates marijuana under specific circumstances.”

Through his interactions with Greenhouse, Robinson was able to sit down with the manager of Greenhouse, Joachim Helms. This cannabis connoisseur is known for his interactions with celebrities, and every one of Greenhouse’s A-List clients are proudly displayed on the company’s ‘Hall Of Fame.’ Some of those celebs include Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus, Lil’ Wayne, 50 Cent, and Eminem.

“Helms was telling me that once Eminem ordered a private police escort straight from the airport to Greenhouse, just to smoke a joint,” Robinson said.

amsterdam 6Joachim Helms, the Greenhouse manager, discussing his experiences with the business.

After hours of research, bicycling through the rain, and a handful of eccentric encounters, Robinson submitted his documentary to a handful of film festivals. The Los Angeles Cinefest selected his piece to be one of the featured films on the group’s website.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is Shane’s completed project, “They Need Us:”

About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])


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