International Cannabis Business Conference

Pot Doc: 'Rolling Papers,' or A Year in the Life of The Cannabist

Ricardo Baca (right) and two of his Cannabist team members at their Denver office.

It was big news in late 2013 when the Denver Post hired a marijuana editor who was tasked with running their online spinoff, thecannabis.co. Now the editor, Ricardo Bacais the star of a movie that documents the paper's maiden voyage in the world of pot publishing. 

Rolling Papers starts on Jan, 1, 2014, the first day of adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado after voters passed Amendment 64 the previous November that legalized weed for all uses. Baca is off and running, dispatching writers to cover stories of immediate interest. His first hires are strain reviewers, like Jake Browne, Brittany Driver and Ry Prichard, who's the true cannaseur of the bunch.

One story of interest is the edibles controversy. Baca digs in, investigating claims that's there was little or no THC in Dr. J's products. Later, he travels to Uruguay, though he fails in his efforts to interview then Pres. Jose Mujica, who pushed through marijuana legalization there, also in 2013.

Baca is an enigma. He doesn't discuss his real passion, which is music - Baca was the Post's music editor before moving over to the weed desk - or what he really thinks about marijuana. Initially, when Baca was hired, he naturally was asked if he smoked. Many were taken aback when he said he didn't. It turns out Baca prefers edibles. But we never learn what's driving him, other than the pursuit of a good story.

If anything, 'Rolling Papers' is less about the Denver Post's expansion into marijuana and more about what it takes to survive in a depressed newspaper market these days.

Director Mitch Dickman keeps it breezy, never stopping for deep thought, which perhaps explains the doc's shortcomings. If anything, Rolling Papers is less about the Denver Post's expansion into marijuana and more about what it takes to survive in a depressed newspaper market these days.

It's probably safe to say that The Cannabist has been a boon to the Post's circulation and web traffic. So emboldened by its success editor-in-chief Greg Moore predicts the weed site would soon become a print mag as well. It's yet to happen.

Rolling Papers is currently screening in 18 cities around the country. Look for the theaters here.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.