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Lady Buds – Hot Docs 2021

Six female Cannabis cultivators and entrepreneurs struggle to survive, following the legalization of recreational marijuana in California in . The passing of Proposition 64 in California resulted in Cannabis becoming legal for recreational is. This allowed many involved in the Cannabis industry to try and legitimize their businesses, including second-generation cultivator Chiah Rodriques, retired school principal, turned dispensary owner Sue Taylor, veteran entrepreneur Karyn Wagner, Latinx Cannabis Activist Felicia Carbajal, and The Bud Sisters: Pearl Moon and Dr. Joyce Centofanti. However, these women find that legalization comes with a lot of red tape and that small businesses are threatened by big corporations creating mass-production farms.

Lady Buds is a documentary that tells the story of Cannabis legalization in California from a female perspective. Many of the film's subjects are based in and around the county of Humboldt, where many people have been cultivating Cannabis in secret since at least the 1970s. Lady Buds digs into the challenges that come with legitimizing the California Cannabis industry, all while there the looking threat of big business putting an end to the small mom and pop operations.

It is interesting watching Lady Buds as a Canadian since Cannabis has been legal federally since 2018. That's not the case in the United States and the fact that Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level in the country is one of the many challenges faced by the subjects of Lady Buds, who just want to run legitimate businesses. Focusing primarily on female Cannabis entrepreneurs is an interesting route for filmmaker Chris J. Russo to go, though it does help to move away from the “bro” image that Cannabis users tend to have. Altogether, Lady Buds is an interesting look at the challenges of Cannabis legalization.

Lady Buds is now streaming as part of the 2021 Hot Docs Film Festival


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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