Over the course of this past month, we have been celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting and honoring some of the many women who have been at the forefront of environmental protection and conservation. The courageous women committed to advocating for legal and watershed-friendly cannabis cultivation are no exception. The film Lady Buds was an official selection for the 2022 Wild & Scenic Film Festival and will be featured in the festival’s upcoming Earth Day Weekend. Directed by CJ Russo, Lady Buds tells the story of six women who, following the legalization of cannabis, leave the illegal underground market to carve out a place for themselves in the new commercial industry. When asked what inspired her to make this film, Russo explained that she wanted to highlight the role of female entrepreneurs after learning that women hold 36 percent of leadership positions within the cannabis industry (Jude Dry, IndieWire). Russo also wanted to learn more about these female trailblazers who had help build the cannabis market; “I was curious to learn about their passion for the plant and I was inspired by their dreams of being a part of the newly legal industry, after working in the shadows for decades” (Filmmaker Feature Interview: Chris J. Russo). After delving into the world of cannabis cultivation and speaking to the women at its forefront, Russo found herself compelled to tell the story that no one else was telling about the impact of cannabis legalization.
Since its debut, Lady Buds has been central to promoting gender equality and equity within the cannabis industry. It has also been key in the consideration of smaller businesses and the role they play in this ever-growing industry. The film has “inspired film festivals to curate panels and events with the women of the film, policymakers and members of the community to create conversations around the challenges the regulations have had on small businesses” (Filmmaker Feature Interview: Chris J. Russo). While the business of cultivating commercial cannabis may favor larger, well-funded corporations, the women of Lady Buds are fighting to preserve craft cannabis’s place in the industry. With the excessive governmental oversight that now accompanies the legal cannabis market, maintaining a smaller cannabis grow operation can be difficult and it may be tempting to disregard state and federal laws and mandates that can seem to be unnecessary hurdles and roadblocks. It is important, however, to adhere to the regulations that are in place to protect the natural resources throughout our watershed. Unregulated, large-scale cannabis cultivation can have a profound and potentially devastating impact on the surrounding environment. While these large, unregulated grow operations may be more lucrative in the short term, the damage they cause to natural resources and habitats is long term and, in some cases, irreversible. The environmental impacts that are of most concern are:
- the overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that could pollute the water and poison wildlife
- Illegal water diversions that result in the loss of late season stream flows and increased pollution and algae blooms in our streams and rivers
- ‘Trespass Grows’ on public and forested lands that cause deforestation and illegal land grading, and damage the habitats of native plants and animals
In an effort to address these growing concerns, SYRCL developed the Growing Green for the Yuba program. Growing Green for the Yuba endeavors to help the community understand how the regulation of cannabis cultivation can be a tool that allows agriculture to align with objectives that maintain water quality and promote healthy habitats for wildlife. As a community, we can work together to ensure that cannabis is grown in a way that is environmentally responsible and sustainable.
To learn more about SYRCL’s Growing Green for the Yuba initiative, visit our Cannabis Resources Page.
Join us on Sunday, April 24th, to watch a screening of Lady Buds at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. The screening features special guests filmmaker CJ Russo and film subject Chiah Rodriques, so you do not want to miss it. To learn more about the Wild & Scenic Film Festival’s Earth Day Celebration and to purchase tickets, click here. We look forward to seeing you there!