Recent trends and predictions estimate that legal adult-use sales in the US could gross upwards of $100 billion as soon as 2030. With those types of numbers in the pipeline, it’s easy to feel like California’s Prop 64 legalizing adult-use cannabis was light years ago. The documentary Lady Buds helps bring viewers back to their roots by highlighting the unstable period leading up to the adult-use legalization and 2017, the year after the significant Golden State vote took place. Director Chris J. Russo features six trailblazers in the exciting and uncertain times that helped shape the historic shift in policy.
The film offers a look back at the beginnings of what has evolved into an industry beyond some of our wildest dreams while honoring women who have become prominent figures in California’s growing cannabis scene. Although each person featured comes from completely different walks of life with varying paths that led to the cannabis industry, they all experienced the complicated barriers of entry to the adult-use market. From a second-generation cannabis farmer to a former Catholic school principal, what makes these stories special is the thread that runs through every single one—a deep determination, a tenacious spirit and an unwavering passion for a plant that undeniably changed their lives.
Risk is one of the driving themes throughout the movie. It’s a distinct and glaring actuality that brings an unyielding sense of unrest to Lady Buds. There are moments of hope, triumph and thrill that offer heartwarming levity. And with so much at stake, each woman’s willingness to put all they have on the line is nothing short of inspiring. Even with local and federal laws changing at neck-break speeds, they’re still risking their freedom. These leaders aren’t just coming out of the shadows to face unfamiliar regulations and complicated legislation; they’re confronting the nail-biting reality of jeopardizing their livelihood and facing big questions about whether they’re willing to go to jail and lose everything, simply for what they believe in. There’s much to consider, but for these changemakers, the only way is forward.
If you like being shown the different pieces that hold the cannabis industry together, this documentary will do the job. It’s compelling, provocative and educational—a terrific trifecta. Even if you aren’t familiar with all of the nuts and bolts of legalization, the director’s storytelling lens, along with the engaging stories, will help pull you into the narrative.
Russo succeeds in shifting the perspective away from the typical bro culture associated with cannabis by shining the spotlight on some fearless female pioneers in the industry. Viewers are invited to weather the transition, share the tears and brave their worst fears in this honest delve into what it looks like to never give up.
This story was originally published in issue 44 of the print edition of Cannabis Now.