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CASH CROP

GO  CASH CROP If there was ever a documentary that embodied the essence and assorted mythologies of its subject, it’s Adam Ross’ Cash Crop, a rambling, laid-back but illuminating look at a host of issues entangled in the subject of marijuana and its evolving criminal/legal status. The film, two years in the making, is structured as a road trip. Ross travels the length of California taking the pulse of different cities and communities as they grapple with the agricultural demands, the mind-bogglingly robust economies and the cultures surrounding weed. The scope of the film is impressive. Medical marijuana dispensary owners recount violent encounters with crooked cops; a spokeswoman for WAMM (Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana) provides historical context by pointing out that the medical marijuana movement grew out of queer activism around AIDS treatments — and she laments that compassionate activism has given way to brutal capitalism; chill mom-and-pop growers in NoCal are juxtaposed against violent cartels; the health and ecological benefits of organically grown weed are argued passionately. The film occasionally goes slack and becomes a bit repetitive, but Ross’ dogged pursuit of seemingly every angle possible on the subject is admirable. While there’s a healthy dose of laughable weed-head philosophizing, the pro-legalization side’s most persuasive proponent might well be the conservative, small-town sheriff who argues against the waste of time and funds in pursuing growers and smokers, and underscores the human element by sharing a personal story of the medicinal value of the stuff. (Ernest Hardy) (Sunset 5)


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