Morgan Kohan (“Star Trek: Discovery”) stars in The Marijuana Conspiracy as Marissa, a test subject with a secret.
The Marijuana Conspiracy is written and directed by Craig Pryce (“Good Witch,” The Dark) and stars Julia Sarah Stone (Honey Bee, Allure), Brittany Bristow (“Good Witch”), Tymika Tafari (“Murdoch Mysteries”), and Kyla Young (“Alias Grace”).
In 1972, five young women looking for a fresh start in life become part of a radical experiment studying the effects of weed on women. Despite the agendas of the government, they use their unique strengths, and friendship to overcome adversity.
The impetus for the film came from Doreen Brown, one of the real life women whom the film is based upon. Years after the experiment ended, Brown shared her little known story with the world. This led to the Toronto Star opening an investigation to find the results of this strange experiment (which are still unknown.)
Check out our Q&A!
What drew you to this project?
Morgan: I was really excited that it was a female led ensemble. That was big, for me. I’m really excited to work with other young women. And also I just love the character. I really love Marissa, I think she has such a great arc.
How would you describe Marissa?
Morgan: Marissa I see as a very confident, business minded, forward thinking woman. I mean, she went in there to finish the experiments to be able to take the money and open up her own business, so she’s very driven.
Why did Marissa need her own money to kind of build her business?
Morgan: I think she was just very independent and she wanted to do it herself. This is her business, her baby and financially, I don’t know if maybe (her husband) was able to contribute as much as was needed for the business but I think she was kind of like ‘this is my project so I’m gonna make it happen.’
This film is based on a true story, how much of the original story did you know going into filming?
Morgan: I didn’t know anything of the original story prior to it. Only once we got the script and I saw the Toronto Star article where the story was found, that’s when I started looking into it but prior to that I had no idea.
How much of the film was actually taken straight from that story?
Morgan: The characters themselves are kind of amalgamations of different women and different people who were a part of it all. So none of them are straight from real life, but the circumstances themselves and what the woman had to do and the isolation and the being kept away from friends and family, all that is true to the real events.
Did you get to meet Doreen Brown, whose story inspired the film?
Morgan: I didn’t have a chance to meet her until we had a set visit with some of the women who came by near the end of it, but I know that she did have a big like she was talking with Craig Pryce, the Director a lot and I think that she helped him a lot with the story and like what it was all like at that time.
You got to meet some of the women, that is so cool.
Morgan: Yeah, really briefly, it was so nice. It was so nice to see them and it just made the whole thing kind of sink in that it actually happened to actual people. Like it’s one thing to be like, ‘that’s a true story’ and then to actually meet the people. Yeah, that was really special.
So this story takes place in the early 70s, what was it like getting into character?
Morgan: I mean, the wardrobe and the hair and makeup team and the production design, all of that kind of does all the work for us. Like when you put on that costume, you have the hair and makeup done and walk on to set, you feel like you’re there already. Like you really didn’t have to do much beyond that to feel like you were in that time period. I fully put all that onto the team for their incredible work on that end.
Obviously your character smokes but what exactly are you smoking in this film?
Morgan: So we were smoking menthol herbal cigarettes. So nothing rash, but still, it gets in your eyeballs and burns. If we were actually smoking marijuana, I think we would still be filming it at this point.
What was it like to work with the rest of the girls?
Morgan: It was really wonderful. It was so nice. We made it a point to get together prior to filming. We got to know each other and bond in that way. And then when we’re on set with the production and the smoke and it felt small and felt enclosed and we felt like a team together. And that was really special. I’ve had some nice friendships come out of that. It was great. It was a great experience.
Because your characters were isolated, did you and the cast kind of isolate too?
Morgan: No, I would just go home at the end of the day. I mean, coming into set I would try and get into character and get into the space of it all, but prior to that I try to leave what happens on set behind so I can still have myself be okay at the end of it,
That’s a good point, some of the characters were just not okay by the end of the film. Did you think that the isolation and the marijuana would have that effect on people?
Morgan: I mean, now coming out of quarantine and COVID, I can totally see it. And the fact that these women weren’t allowed outside, they weren’t allowed any contact with their loved ones, they were so beyond isolated, it was crazy. And then that compounded with the marijuana. It all makes sense now, like, of course, you’re going to have huge repercussions at the end of that mentally, and I’m sure physically too. So yeah, it makes sense to me now, but I think at the time, maybe I didn’t quite take into consideration quite how awful that would be. I mean, you think it and you’re like ‘oh yeah, that makes sense I think it’ll be like this’ but now, having kind of gone through a very miniscule version of that, I have a greater understanding.
What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Morgan: I really hope that people will have open and honest conversations about marijuana now. For so long it’s been such a taboo subject, don’t smoke, it’s illegal, don’t do it and now that it’s legal, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about what’s a healthy relationship to have, is it a good relationship for everybody? Where do you stand on it? I just hope that people are more open about it now.