Early this past December I had the pleasure of staying in Ottawa with a close friend to engage in a few amazing experiences. I also had the pleasure of crossing off a few items on my bucket list; I never imagined that I would have the luxury of meeting film producer Adam Scorgie, or Brian O’Dea, Canadian-international marijuana smuggler, anytime in my cannabis-activism career. I was truly thrilled that this was a part of my itinerary in Ottawa.
During the five hour flight from Vancouver to Ottawa I wrote an interview for Adam Scorgie, in humble hopes he would oblige. I must admit I was nervous to meet him, but it wasn’t hard creating twenty questions for Adam Scorgie which I felt my readers would want to know the answers to—after all, it had been a fantasy in the works since I first saw The Union.
“Let’s Play Twenty Questions”
1 - Tell me about your career. What aspirations did you have growing up?
AS - Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience many parts of the world. I lived in Australia, Singapore, the United States, and Canada. Living in several diverse countries has really educated me to see a lot of other cultures and perspectives. When I was young, I lived by the seat of my pants and there are STILL times when it still feels like that, lol!
2 - How was the concept for The Union: The Business Behind Getting High born?
AS - When I came back from living in New York—where I was going to acting and film school—I had a lot of people that I had gone to high school with, that were making serious amounts of money by growing and selling cannabis. I looked at getting into growing after seeing how much these people were making, and that’s when I started looking into the culture surrounding growing. I thought it would make a great documentary, and that was the beginning of a four year process to make The Union.
3 - What was your ultimate pursuit for developing The Union? Was there something or someone who inspired you to become a filmmaker?
AS - I have always been a storyteller and have always loved watching movies. But certainly the popularity of Michael Moore’s and Morgan Spurlock’s work gave me the idea about producing, documenting, and ultimately inspiring me to pursue the Union.
4 - How did you get your start in the film industry?
AS - I enrolled in acting and film school in New York and began working in front of the camera, but I ultimately fell in love with producing once I learned to do that.
5 - How did you go about casting subjects for The Union? Was it a challenge or were people excited to jump on board?
AS - NOBODY wanted to interview for the Union originally. We were “nobody” filmmakers from Canada, asking people to interview for a political documentary about cannabis. Not too many takers on that at first, but persistence and dedication paid off and we found a way.
6 - Do you use cannabis yourself?
AS - No I do not. Have I used cannabis before? ABSOLUTELY. And I certainly did inhale. But I don’t consume regularly. If I ever have an opportunity to smoke with Snoop, I will certainly scratch that off my bucket list!
7 - Have you always been pro-cannabis?
AS - No I was not. I was very anti-cannabis in high-school. And even when we started the production of The Union, I was not a fan. At that time, all I was interested in was the business side of things. Little did I know my world would be turned upside down with the knowledge we learned from both films.
8 - Two part question regarding cannabis prohibition in Canada:
1/ What are your personal feelings about cannabis prohibition?
AS - I do not think there should be ANY criminal penalties attached to someone’s personal choice to use Cannabis. It should be regulated just like alcohol.
2/ Do you think Canada will follow the USA soon, when it comes to legalizing cannabis?
AS - Always so tough to say. Especially now having a little understanding of how politics work. Policies are based on what will get politicians elected, not what’s best for the people. So let’s hope for a sensible policy bill to come along that will help a politician become elected. And if that becomes the case, I could see regulations encompassing cannabis policies happening in Canada.
9 - Do you exercise your right to vote? Why or why not?
AS - Not as often as I should, mainly because I usually don’t have the time to really read our politician’s platforms and what bills they are trying to pass. I believe it’s more of a disservice voting for someone simply because of which house they are in, or because I liked one interview they have done in the past.
10 - The Liberals are undeniably wanting to legalize cannabis. If you could be heard, what would you want to say to the general public to encourage them to get out and vote in the next Federal election?
AS - Watch The Union & The Culture High. They both will get you up to speed on the current issue.
11 - After The Union was a huge success, you’d mentioned that you weren’t planning on making another ‘pot documentary’. How did that statement get overridden? How was The Culture High born, and what steps did you take to make it happen?
AS - Due to the fact that The Union became a cult-classic success, and not a financial success. In fact, if you were to ask a venture capitalist to look at the financial records for The Union, they would say, “This is the worst financial investment you have ever made”. So after The Union, my team and I were more than broke, we were in serious financial debt. We were quite exhausted when it came to the subject of cannabis, but everywhere we seemed to go, people kept asking, “When are you doing another one?” We tried to reject that demand, but with Kickstarter’s help, and with the audience’s demand, it simply was just too overwhelming to deny.
12 - You have some big celebrities in this film: Sir Richard Branson, Wiz Khalafia, Snoop Dogg and again, amazing Joe Rogan, just to name a few. Was it easy or hard to obtain support from them?
AS - We pursued them. Unfortunately, they never come to you. However, we did have great producers like Bianca Barnhill and Jason Reed who came to us to support the film. They were also the producers who lined up most of the above mentioned high-profile interviews. Other than Joe Rogan, because we had already become friends.
13 - What sets The Culture High apart from The Union?
AS - It’s a very different film. There’s a deeper message, a deeper dissection of political issues, and it even dives into human culture and what makes us so polarized on such important issues.
14 - What were the different challenges you faced making both films?
AS - With The Union, it was never having enough money. And with The Culture High, it was living up to the audiences expectations.
15 - Did you have any ‘OMG’ moments producing The Culture High?
AS - Lots of OMG moments. Witnessing how well cannabis oil worked for Jason David and his son Jayden really blew me away. And then of course learning the depth of police corruption in correlation to the drug war.
16 - What are some of your favourite memories making these films?
AS - Traveling with Brett and Stevo were always full of good times. Having an opportunity to sit down with all of these amazing people and become educated with so many different perspectives was truly enlightening. My favorite part of all, though, would have to be hosting our screenings, with full house audiences, and seeing them become emotionally affected by our work. Inspiring their lives for the better has no greater satisfaction for me.
17 - What do you hope The Culture High will bring to your audience that The Union maybe didn’t?
AS - Just additional insight to recent political and civil developments, further in-depth explanations, and new arising arguments. I believe we accomplished those goals.
18 - Which film presented more of a challenge to make, The Culture High or The Union, and why?
AS - Both documentaries were equally challenging. The Union was challenging due to the fact that we really didn’t have the finances to pull off the kind of film we did. The Culture High was challenging in a way that people were expecting it to change the world. And changing the world’s expectations for your second film is a VERY tough expectation to meet.
19 - What did you take from producing these two films? Did you learn any life lessons?
AS - I learned so many life lessons producing these two films. it would take me days to write them all down, lol. It is safe to say, however, that the production team and myself are forever positively changed after producing these two films together.
20 - What is your next career move?
AS - The same team and I are jumping right back into another feature documentary called Ice Guardians. It looks at the history of the misunderstood role of an NHL enforcer. We also have my first dramatic screenplay called “Lake City” hopefully getting into production this fall.
Editor’s note: Adam Scorgie’s words have been lightly edited for readability. American spelling and Scorgie’s personal writing style have been maintained.