“Lady Buds”: Women and Cannabis in California: Has legalization created criminalization? Toronto Hot Docs

Most of this documentary is focused on the Emerald Triangle of California, namely the counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity Counties where over 60 % of California cannabis is grown but mass production seems to be shifting to Santa Barbara and the Mojave Desert.

The documentary focuses on women cultivators, distributors, educators and activists.

In many respects it was the ravages of AIDS in California that revealed to many disbelievers that cannabis could ease the pain and suffering of AID’s patients. In 1996 medical cannabis was legalized in California and for recreational use in 2016 with a supposed 5-year window for small producers before big capital moved in but big capital found loopholes and started producing cannabis in a more cost effective manner than producers in the Emerald Triangle many of whom had been producing illegal cannabis for 40 years.

It rather comes down to a struggle between deep pocket corporate producers with economies of scale and a reliable distribution network against the tough artisanal producers with their small yields and unreliable distribution network. It appears as if big business is squeezing them out.

In growing season here in Ontario I’d rather buy my produce from a local farmer I know and from a farmer at a local market. Yes these folks are in for a profit but they are proud of their produce. I’d rather eat bumpy ugly looking sweet potatoes than the tasteless supermarket junk I must take pains to avoid in the winter. I can have conversations with humans that produce foods but there are so many accustomed to mass production and consumption they mindlessly buy at the local supermarket or Costco that sells California raspberries and Mexican blueberries rather than local produce. This is the same problem small cannabis producers in California face. Due to legalization the big producers with their distribution chains can produce mass cultivated products far cheaper than the small outdoor growers passionate about their product. Add to that mass bureaucratization adding more costs to a low margin small producer and it is almost as if its cheaper to go “illegal” again. The community of independents smashed by deep pocket Megacorp. As agribusiness is destroying the family farm so is it destroying the small Californian cannabis producers.

A fascinating documentary about the female cannabis element in California but I see the film more about the squeezing out of the little guy. I wonder if you can buy cannabis at Costco in California!

I am not certain Canadians can relate to this on the cannabis front. Although recreational cannabis is legal in Canada there has never been the tight knit community of illegal producers so big business has dominated the cultivation of cannabis right at the outset of legalization. It is in the distribution that smaller distributors are starting to proliferate almost to unsupportable levels. Will they fail and the Megacorps step in and take over distribution?

The 96 minute documentary is produced by Chris J. Russo and tickets for this Hot Docs film for viewing between April 29-May 9 can be purchased here https://hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival

Only available for viewers in Canada from April 29-May9.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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