Just in time for this Election Day's various marijuana initiatives (including our state's Proposition 19 to legalize, regulate and tax the drug) comes the mellow documentary "Cash Crop," a loosely structured and not terribly pointed look at the sociopolitical, remedial and economic aspects of California's behemoth agricultural crop: Cannabis sativa. The film is often more involving as a travelogue of our state's diverse range of urban, coastal and rural environments than for any great narrative dexterity on the part of writer-director Adam Ross. Still, it's intriguing to experience a world that remains fairly under the radar, despite its increasingly immense impact.
Ross mainly focuses on Northern California's Emerald Triangle, an area made up of three counties — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — which are the state's, uh, highest producers of marijuana. Interviews with the freewheeling region's colorful pot growers, local observers and even an unconventional sheriff help explain how, aided by the passage of California's landmark medical marijuana laws, Cannabis farming went on to replace the Triangle's once-hearty logging and fishing industries as its chief source of income. Eye-opening, yes, but Ross never ventures much beyond the mega-crop's production phase and into the specifics of its wider sale and distribution, where things likely get even thornier — and perhaps more interesting.
"Cash Crop." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.