‘Rolling Papers’ Chronicles Rise Of Pot Journalism In Colorado

February 29, 2016

It documents the rise of pot journalism by following the coverage of The Cannabist and its editor Ricardo Baca. That's a Denver Post website dedicated to the marijuana industry and pot culture. The film is now available on demand and at the Sie FilmCenter in Denver. Director Mitch Dickman and editor Ricardo Baca spoke to Colorado Matters.

Why the film focused on the Denver Post's marijuana coverage:

Dickman: "We were really interested in the idea that journalists are the ones that are helping frame this conversation of legalization and it provided a nice portrait for us to do that. Also, [we were interested in] the intersection of declining print journalism and how they're responding to such a monumental time."
What made Ricardo Baca the right choice as editor:
Dickman: "Ricardo Baca is one of the nicest human beings I know. And I just think that the [Denver] Post knew he was very entrepreneurial, he had the history as a journalist, being the music editor for 12 years and the entertainment editor as well. They knew he was the right kind of person to approach this. But [he's] very even keeled, mild mannered, just a joy to work with."
Are there more marijuana stories you want to tell?
Dickman: "No. It's going to take 10 years for us to really have the data to show whether this experiment is working or not. I don't have 10 years to be working on this film.
"We covered it as best we could in that year one and tried to have a lot of fun with the film. So thank goodness the Cannabist and the [Denver] Post is there, covering the things like pesticides and the stories that are still pressing."
Why the Cannabist is turning its focus to big business in the upcoming year:
Baca: "What happens when we have multiple pot shop chains throughout the state of Colorado that have more than 12 shops? And some of those investors are now absolutely present in other states. What happens on the commercial side of this when these companies truly start expanding and end up becoming a national marijuana corporation?"
How the Cannabist is doing financially:
Baca: "The Cannabist is basically standing on its own. It is self-sufficient. Of course, we couldn't have started without the [Denver] Post and we don't exist without the Post. But for now, our advertising supports our entire staff and our freelance budget and everything along with that."