California’s Cannabis Culture – a Short film

by on July 27, 2010 · 4 comments

in Culture, Election, Organizing

pipedreamsWe were contacted by Amanda Van West who thought her documentary would stimulate some discussion here at the OB Rag. There are some interesting points in the film and I had to chuckle at the remark about “the stench”. ~Patty

Amanda writes:

I’m a 24 year old filmmaker from Santa Clara, California, currently finishing my MA degree in International Broadcast Journalism at Westminster University in London. I’ve worked on short documentaries in California, Mexico, Nicaragua, and London.

“California’s Cannabis Culture” is a short documentary that was created for my final MA project. I filmed everything around Northern California between May and June, and finished the documentary in London. It’s an exploration of the marijuana scene in California, in light of the upcoming possibility of Proposition 19 passing in November. California has long had a reputation of being marijuana-friendly, so I wanted to showcase a bit of the culture and investigate what changes might happen, if any, should it become fully legalized in November.

This isn’t a documentary that’s meant to be for or against the legalization of marijuana. Rather, I wanted to create something that both people from California and from outside California could enjoy, and I hope that it will stimulate debate about the issue.

California’s Cannabis Culture from amanda van west on Vimeo.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

jec July 27, 2010 at 9:15 am

Amanda, nice piece. Here’s a few tidbits – America’s history with hemp. In colonial days every farmer was required to cultivate some hemp – Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both did. America was the largest producer of hemp rope in the late 1800’s. Native Americans introduced colonists to the technique of mixing marijuana with the old world tobacco to mellow it out. The first law against marijuana was passed in the state of Utah in 1915 – very openly as an attack on “mexicans and blackies from New Orleans”. It like later federal laws created a tax – why a tax? Because legal analysis concluded that under the constitution the government had no right to tell people how to live. Boy did that change. In more modern times, the Dutch have had liberal usage laws for decades. Amsterdam to this day is probably the global Cannabis center. But a detail seriously ignored, even denied by American media; in December Mexico legalized (or de-criminalized) personal possession of five drugs, including heroin and marijuana. Bolivia, Argentina, and other south American countries have tossed out criminal penalties. Vincete Fox the previous Mexican president paid a quiet visit to Washington D.C. in January to explain that latin American has changed it’s approach to drugs. But in a nation that has more police than doctors, pays prison guards 50% more than it pays it’s teachers don’t expect the entrenched law enforcement interests to relinquish it’s control.


Dave Sparling July 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

Two great reads. The profit in illegal is so much higher than legal that it is unlikely we will ever follow the make it legal policy.


Rich July 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Nice work, Amanda – hope you get a good grade on your work! Looking forward to seeing more of it!


Jim Dent July 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Good job. I believe Dave is right though. Too many bad guys would stand to loose way too much money if weed is legalized here, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve been watching, waiting, wondering about the legalization of marijuana since the late 60’s. I’ve seen it go from being openly smoked at every rock concert during the early 70’s to having to be very discreet about smoking it at rock concerts during this decade. Seems to me it’s all going backwards! I don’t partake any longer myself, but I do agree that someday it should be legalized. It could save a lot of lives.


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