IRVINE, Calif. – When it comes to the legalization of cannabis, is California a model to follow or a cautionary tale?
California-based Weedmaps, the leading technology and software infrastructure provider to the cannabis industry, has produced a three-part docuseries titled Uprooted that explores that question.
Governors across the country have deemed dispensaries essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once proudly and loudly anti-pot, many mayors and city councils in California are now considering the public good that comes from cannabis tax revenues, especially as they scramble to cover budget shortfalls from the pandemic-devastated economies. And with the election on the horizon, voters in several states will head to the polls where medicinal and adult-use cannabis is on the ballot, potentially legalizing in their jurisdictions what the federal government still lists as illegal and considers as dangerous as heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.
Cannabis legalization is at an inflection point. As states serve as innovation hubs of legal implementation, California, the proverbial cannabis capital of the world, is the super laboratory, but has their great experiment been a success?
That story is told by those Californians still fighting the unanticipated and unintended consequences of Proposition 64 – the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis. Sewing together interviews from experts, as well as the extraordinary leaders and change-makers of the industry, Uprooted details the complex history of legal cannabis in California. But more than that, it reveals the barriers to entry still faced by entrepreneurs of color, many of whom built the industry before it legalized, and were incarcerated as a result. The series also sheds light on the unanticipated roadblocks that continue to stifle medical access, hinder legitimacy and fair competition within the industry, and thwart the realization of much-needed tax revenue. Patients, entrepreneurs, veterans, workers, advocates and consumers share the personal and financial heartache inflicted on them by a law that was intended to help them. And still, their belief in the industry and in themselves is unwavering, and they offer practical, sensible solutions to move the industry forward.
“Today, more than 70% of California municipalities prohibit cannabis business, and the people who should be first in line for business opportunities in this industry are too often told to wait somewhere else. That’s not what legalization should look like,” stated Juanjo Feijoo, Chief Marketing Officer at Weedmaps. “Our goal with this film project is to put a human face on the industry and on its history, and remind everyone that policy issues directly impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.”
Uprooted features interviews with experts, advocates and licensed shop owners, including John Entwistle, Jr., Author and Political Activist; Joe Airone, Sweetleaf Joe Founder & Director at Sweetleaf Collection; and Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt Jr., Owner, Blunts and Moore. The docuseries is presented in three separate episodes:
Episode ONE: “California’s Complicated”
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and has been globally recognized for having some of the best cannabis on the market. So few Californians were prepared for the unintended consequences that resulted from the passage of 2016’s Proposition 64. From people who were there at the beginning, to those fighting for access today, Episode ONE looks at the impact of change, reveals lessons learned along the way and explores the path that lies ahead.
Episode TWO: “Patients Left Behind”
Proposition 64 “decompassionized” cannabis in California. Cultivators and collectives were no longer allowed to “gift” cannabis to patients. Inadequate licensing along the supply chain left patients with limited options and inconsistent supply, while retail prices skyrocketed. But advocates fought back and the Dennis Perone and Brownie Mary Act was signed into law in 2020. This legislation provides a pathway for compassionate cannabis to once again enter the legal marketplace.
Episode THREE: “Inadequate and Inequitable”
Those with the most to lose in an overtaxed and over-regulated cannabis marketplace are disadvantaged communities negatively impacted by the failed War on Drugs. The great promise of legalization is social equity. Everybody talks about how important it is, but it never seems to be high on anyone’s “to do” list. The community is demanding accountability and action. In addition, lawmakers and regulators are working to create a more functional framework for cannabis in their communities. Prohibition persists and the fight for legalization in California is not yet won.
All three episodes can be viewed free of charge on weedmaps.com/uprooted beginning Wednesday, September 2.
Weedmaps is the leading technology and software infrastructure provider to the cannabis industry. Founded in 2008, the company holds a strong belief in the power of cannabis and the importance of enabling safe, legal access to consumers worldwide. Since then, Weedmaps has worked tirelessly, not only to be the most comprehensive platform for consumers, but to build the software solutions that power businesses compliantly in the space, to advocate for legalization, social equity, and licensing in many jurisdictions, and to facilitate further learning through partnering with dozens of subject matter experts on providing detailed, accurate information about the plant.Weedmaps’ mission is to power a transparent and inclusive global cannabis economy. Now in its second decade, Weedmaps has been a driving force behind much of the legislative change we’ve seen in the past 10 years. Headquartered in Irvine, California, Weedmaps employs more than 400 professionals around the world, including in Denver, Sacramento, Tucson, New York, Barcelona, and Toronto. Visit us at weedmaps.com.