Lady Buds


Reviewed by: Stephanie Brown

Lady Buds
"For a documentary directly focused on the money side of the cannabis industry in California, Russo finds poignancy in the roots of the plant’s history."

Chris J Russo’s documentary follows the pioneers of the cannabis farming communities stationed around California and their journey from hidden markets to legality, with restrictions that make it almost impossible to survive in the regional businesses they founded.

Russo does extremely well to document and interlink the struggles between the women, their families, and farms, as well as the characteristics each of their stories possess that serves as a barrier to the prosperity of their independent markets. Unlike other documentaries discussing cannabis legalisation, it doesn’t delve into the debates surrounding the substance itself, but is more concerned with the corporations that are built to dominate an industry as soon as it becomes state approved. It becomes impossible not to wonder whether the founding farmers were ever going to be given the chance to thrive alongside the big businesses predominately created for economic colonisation.

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From the struggles of a family farm to stay on the market, a woman falling into debt through constant push-backs on her dispensary set-up, to a couple who have been in the farming business for decades that are no longer receiving the capital to sell any way other than behind a counter, it almost seems that legality comes with a price that independent producers can no longer pay. The corruption in the centre of it all seems to rear its ugly head when trade is no longer threatened with a jail sentence, and Russo paints the irony with such emphasis that it would be difficult to miss.

For a documentary directly focused on the money side of the cannabis industry in California, Russo finds poignancy in the roots of the plant’s history. With small farms striving to illuminate the properties and functions of strains and grows in accordance to the holistic benefits they provide the consumer. There is a remarkable amount of dedication that the founders have for preserving and sharing the educational aspects of cannabis use. It’s strange to consider that cannabis’ illegality, in many ways, was built around the ambiguity of the safety of its usage - and that its progression into medicine now seems to value economic progress over the information surrounding the drug that was once considered paramount.

Russo leads us through the legal cannabis markets of California in a way that honours the farmers, educators, and activists that recognised the medical wonders of cannabis long before the state capitalised on their findings. While the pioneers of the market may fade into the background of the economic model of California’s seedy conquest, Russo’s documentary will never allow their legacy, bravery, and conviction to be erased.

Reviewed on: 23 Oct 2021
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Lady Buds packshot
The story of six women who come out of the shadows of the cannabis underground to enter the new commercial industry in California.

Director: Chris J Russo

Writer: Tamara Maloney, Chris J Russo

Starring: Felicia Carbajal, Joyce Centofanti, Cheryl Mumzer Goldman, Pearl Moon, Chiah Rodriques, Sue Taylor

Year: 2021

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: US

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