Lady Buds: Women, Cannabis, and California

“Right now all we’re doing is trying to just stay alive in the business. We’re just trying to get it done within the regulations, so that we can survive, so that we can go forward.”
One of the Lady Buds

A prolific filmmaker and exhibited fine art photographer, Chris J. Russo has directed her first feature—the documentary film Lady Buds—about women and cannabis in California. Russo spends time with farmer/entrepreneurs Chiah Rodriques, Sue Taylor, Felicia Carbajal, Karyn Wagner, and ‘The Bud Sisters’—also known as Pearl Moon and Dr. Joyce Centofanti.

The primary issue faced by the lady buds is the inevitable expansion of the industrialization of cannabis. Farmers are facing seemingly nonstop State-based bureaucratic challenges to the running of their hitherto bucolic farms, as well as the falling prices of cannabis. The women are doing anything and everything they can to maintain a community of relatively small farms.

Lady Bud Sue Taylor wanted to open an Oakland dispensary geared toward the health care needs of seniors. She did so, but it took a massive amount of effort, patience, and time to realize her dream, and, once realized, she suffered a riot sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Deeply committed to her dream, she weathered the loss gracefully.

It appears that California’s governmental bureaucracy will continue to push against small farms. And farmers will do what they can to push back. Cannabis, of course, is still a Federal Class 1 Drug. Eventually, though, cannabis will be decriminalized at the Federal level. When that happens there will be much more open business, of course, along with a good measure of chaos.

Lady Buds has received positive attentions from press: Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, POV—Documentary Culture, DEADLINE, Candid Cinema, The Film Stage, Film Threat, and SKUNK.

Lady Buds is a very well-produced film that, by the way, features beautiful northern California scenes. I also appreciated the work of Abby Posner and Taylor Rowley who provided the film’s music score.

The film is currently playing at the Mill Valley Film Festival, on October 11 and 12, and will be available virtually on the Mill Valley Festival website for the duration of the festival. Stay in touch with the film’s website to find ways you can see the film.





(Photo courtesy of ‘Lady Buds’)

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