Monday, April 13, 2015

EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION



Once upon a time, the image of the pot-smoking slacker was, at best, the butt of late-night TV humor, or, at worst, the hapless (and often incarcerated) victim of the federal government’s war on drugs. Today that image has changed dramatically. With medical cannabis now legal in 23 states, and recreational use legal in 4 states and counting, marijuana is big business. The private equity firm, Greenwave Advisors predicts that by 2020 the value of the U.S. marijuana industry could surpass 35 BILLION dollars.

It is this changing perception that makes the DVD Evergreen so fascinating to watch. This 2013 documentary follows Washington State’s Initiative 502, the 2012 voter’s referendum to legalize the private consumption of marijuana. This is a surprising film in several ways. It is, first and foremost, a political documentary. And a very good one. It reinforces the notion that money and organization are key to any political campaign. That and the perfect spokesman. Supporters of 502 were not the bleary-eyed Rastafarians one might have imagined. Instead they were law enforcement officials, government attorneys and, most surprising of all, Rick Steves, the affable host of a public television travel series, who canvassed the state in support of the measure.

Equally surprising was the revelation that the most vocal opponents to the measure were not conservative religious groups but rather the medical marijuana industry. With a once-near monopoly on the cultivation, processing and distribution of cannabis, the industry stood to loose its entire business model with the advent of legalization. They fought bitterly to oppose the measure and lost.

In the end, big money, better organization and Rick Steves won out, making Washington State the second in a growing roster of states that have legalized possession of cannabis  for personal use. Evergreen depicts this sea change in American public opinion of marijuana with forceful and eloquent clarity.

And you can reserve Evergreen here.

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