Movie review of “Rolling Papers”: The documentary follows Colorado’s marijuana legalization experience through the eyes and ears of Denver Post reporters and editors. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
It’s easy to forget Washington was the first state to legalize marijuana, because Colorado was quicker to actually open pot shops.
Media hordes descended on the story in the summer of 2014, with hometown paper The Denver Post leading the way.
Now, Colorado gets more special attention on the silver screen. The documentary “Rolling Papers” looks at the state’s legalization experience through the eyes and ears of Denver Post reporters and editors.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Rolling Papers,’ a documentary directed by Mitch Dickman. 79 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
The film barrels through about a year of the newspaper’s marijuana coverage and wonders: Could covering pot save the failing newspaper business?
Most Read Stories
- Foreign buyers drop off as Seattle housing market hits hottest tempo since 2006 bubble
- What drivers can and cannot do under Washington state's new distracted-driving law
- ‘A painful and frustrating experience’: Horizon Air scheduling havoc will continue into the fall
- Seattle police after organizer cancels popular Magnuson Park movie nights: ‘The park is safe’
- Dining on roadkill: Washington residents gather 1,600 deer, elk in law's first year VIEW
Despite that somewhat absurd frame, “Rolling Papers” is an instructive and fun film that will keep you giggling — high or straight.
The documentary sits on the shoulders of Ricardo Baca, the Post’s charming marijuana editor, famous for appearances on “The Colbert Report” and “The View” that billed him as the nation’s first marijuana editor.
Baca runs the Post’s pot blog, The Cannabist, and organizes a motley crew of both seasoned investigative reporters and pot aficionados trying journalism for the first time.
Baca’s novice scribes, well-marinated in pot culture, give inside perspectives on the weed world’s pageantry and provide humor. Traveling to interview a black-market marijuana dealer, pot reviewer Jake Browne admits, “I should Google investigative reporting.”
The straight-laced veteran reporters, meanwhile, give viewers an overview of weighty pot policy issues, such as concerns over testing and safety.
But don’t mistake “Rolling Papers” for “Spotlight,” the Oscar-nominated journalism procedural film. The filmmakers skate over ethical issues like pot and parenting, for example. Instead, they favor comical High Times-esque pot pornography shots, meandering through a marijuana festival and monging on edibles during a reporting trip to Uruguay.
By the end, the fate of the struggling newspaper business feels distant and “Rolling Papers” merely a pleasant distraction, not unlike the substance of its focus.