There have been countless movies centered on the use or trade of drugs, from stoner comedies to critically acclaimed, serious-minded dramas. If you’re interested in the drug theme and are looking for your next film to watch, you’re in luck. There are plenty of great options within the category available for streaming on Netflix.
Since their vast library spans such a wide variety of genres, we’ve narrowed down the options to just seven of their best drug-themed titles. All of these movies incorporate some element of the drug trade into their storylines and there’s something to fit every kind of taste, whether you prefer funny, dramatic, or a little crazy (hey, we are talking about drug-infused themes here). Below, check out seven of the best drug movies on Netflix right now.
High school senior Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore) and his group of eclectic friends become embroiled in a drug dealer’s business when Malcolm inadvertently takes a backpack full of drugs home from a party. A critically acclaimed breakout at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Dope appears on its surface to be a standard teen sex comedy flick. However, beneath its sex comedy veneer is a thoughtful and poignant film that touches on violence, drugs, and race in unexpected ways. And it manages to do all of this while remaining hilarious throughout.
Directed and written by Rick Famuyiwa, Dope currently has a 88% “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. BMF: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Drug Empire
This 2012 documentary portrays the 15-year investigation of the BMF, or Black Mafia Family, one of the largest cocaine empires in U.S. history. Tied in with the music industry, specifically hip-hop, in the ’90s, the documentary features interviews with those who worked on the case, as well as footage of the community that was responsible for transporting millions of dollars worth of drugs from Los Angeles to Atlanta.
3. Cartel Land
The Mexican Cartel is known for being a ruthless, violent operation. It terrorizes citizens on both sides of the border, while the Mexican government leaves many small towns to fend for themselves. Cartel Land shows us the stunning true story of vigilantes rising up to battle the Cartel. These militias arm and protect their villages, and operate with a swift, merciless brutality to protect their homes. The documentary itself is a breathtaking affair, putting the filmmakers right in the middle of what amounts to a war zone.
4. DMT: The Spirit Molecule
This 2010 documentary investigates dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychoactive compound that is found in humans, as well as many other animals and plants. Based on Dr. Rick Strassman’s book of the same name, DMT: The Spirit Molecule was the result of his years of research into this unusual compound. However, don’t expect this to be merely a dry, academic overview of DMT. This documentary includes perspectives from a wide range of people, from scientists and mathematicians to artists and religious leaders.
5. Cocaine Cowboys
This powerful 2006 documentary, directed by Billy Corben, explores the rise of cocaine and the resulting crime epidemic that swept Miami, Florida, in the 1970s and 1980s. The producers interview everyone from law enforcement officials, journalists, and lawyers to former drug smugglers and gang members, in order to provide a first-hand perspective of the Miami drug war. The film is gripping, gritty, and intense and poses some hard questions about the drug trade and its ability to turn a city into a crime-infested war zone.
6. The Panic in Needle Park
7. Russell Brand: End the Drugs War
Although primarily known as a comedian, Russell Brand is also an ex-addict. In this documentary originally made for BBC Three, Brand talks to both users and the police about drug addiction before bringing his case for drug decriminalization to the U.N. However, Brand is far from ambivalent about the harm that drug addiction causes. As noted in The Telegraph’s review of the documentary, “The biggest eye-opener was Brand’s uncompromising stance toward the addicts themselves. A former heroin user, his hardline message was that drugs rip apart lives and that those in a spiral of addiction need to wake up to that reality.”
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