UPROOTED: Weedmaps Docu Series on California's Complex Cannabis Market

Uprooted Episode 1: California's Complicated
Uprooted Episode 1: California's Complicated / Weedmaps

Weedmaps is taking on the complexities - good and bad - of California cannabis, legalization and its effect on social equity in its new docuseries, "Uprooted."

The series, which is hosted on the cannabis tech and software giant’s website explores “unanticipated and unintended” consequences of “Proposition 64 – the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis,” according to a press release. The series is presented in three episodes. 

Director of Public Policy and Partnerships at Weedmaps Cedric Haynes told The Bluntness social equity efforts in the state of California are not cohesive statewide. Instead, Haynes said, social equity initiatives are thanks to the “efforts of cities and countries throughout the state. Each governs its own cannabis marketplace –  if it chooses to have one – and even then, the State does not require a social equity component.”

Of the existing programs in California, Haynes said: “none of them are perfect. That’s good enough for some local leaders. But not good enough for most.”

In “Uprooted,” Director of Brand at Weedmaps Rebecca Larzik said viewers can expect to hear from a range of “cannabis experts, advocates, and licensed shop owners who have spent the last 25 years championing for a more transparent and equitable system statewide — including Jazmin Aguiar, president of The Working Group and chairwoman of the board for MCBA; Sweetleaf Joe, founder and director of the Bay Area medical cannabis initiative; the Sweetleaf Collective...and Alphonso "Tucky" Blunt Jr., Oakland’s first recipient of a cannabis dispensary license under their social equity program” among others.

According to Larzik, experts get candid throughout the course of “Uprooted,” shedding light on the very real and “unanticipated roadblocks [that ]continue to stifle medical access, hinder legitimacy and fair competition within the industry, and thwart the realization of much-needed tax revenue.” 

Larzik highlighted the perspective of social equity owner and advocate Adolph Ward of Zipp Delivery: 

“The cannabis industry has been so regulated and taxed to the hilt that the framework for Prop 64 has inadvertently been funneling the consumer base to the unregulated market since its inception. Many individuals and operators don’t stand a chance before they even get out of the gate. And those issues are compounded for the average social equity applicant, who in many cases doesn't have access to resources, and the resources that do exist weren’t built for.”

Adolph Ward

Larzik expressed her own concerns about legalization, noting that “more than 70% of California municipalities [today] prohibit cannabis business....The people who should be first in line for business opportunities in this industry are too often told to wait somewhere else,” she said.

"That’s not what legalization should look like," Larzik added.

According to Larzik, Weedmaps is dedicated to moving social equity initiatives forward in the California cannabis industry.

“Weedmaps has long been driven by its mission to power a transparent and inclusive global cannabis economy. Our company endeavors every day to advance cannabis causes such as social equity in the marketplace and justice for those who’ve been impacted most by the War on Drugs, both of which are highlighted as part of the docuseries. Our goal with this film project is to put a human face on the industry and on its history, and remind everyone that policy issues directly impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.”

Rebecca Larzik

Though the road to solving for legislatives obstacles will be a lengthy one, Haynes said there is positive progress, especially in Los Angeles: 

“Last year, advocates rightly criticized the City’s social equity application process. It was complicated, confusing and unfair. Issues like burdensome and expensive property requirements, as well as a thorny submission process left people feeling cheated and dismissed...To their credit, LA’s Department of Cannabis Regulation listened. And they became more aware of how their processes and procedures have the potential to inflict more harm on the communities that they are charged to help...So this time, they are moving forward by incorporating changes from the lessons learned and suggestions from their stakeholders. They are being more thoughtful, intentional and pragmatic...When it comes to people’s lives and livelihoods, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work." 

Cedric Haynes

Haynes added that “if LA gets it right, and we are hopeful the next round of licensing is more equitable, the City could lead the way for the rest of the State.”

Those interested in supporting the  people and issues the view in “Uprooted” can do so “by educating themselves on these issues and using their voices to make a difference,” Larzik told The Bluntness.

“California voters wanted open cannabis markets, it’s up to each of us to make sure it gets done right. Start in your own communities, vote local, do your research and make your own voice heard. If you wish to go further afield, we have listed organizations you can support in this area on our Uprooted landing page.”

Rebecca Larzik

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