For this installment of “Cannabis Crossroads,” I sat down with 2019 Cannabis Science Conference (CSC) East keynote speaker and television and film icon, Ricki Lake. We discussed how she feels about returning to Baltimore, Maryland to speak at CSC East and her new award-winning documentary, Weed the People, a ground-breaking film that follows five families who are looking for an alternative to treat their children’s cancer. The film documents their journey in utilizing cannabis as an option.
Ricki Lake has been a household name since 1988, when the world first met and fell in love with her character “Tracy Turnblad” in John Waters’ iconic film Hairspray. Her additional film and television credits are extensive. At age 24, Lake became one of the youngest daily talk show hosts in history with the debut of The Ricki Lake Show. Day after day, millions of viewers tuned in for more than a decade, chanting “Ricki! Ricki!” as she discussed contemporary and sometimes more serious issues with a myriad of guests and a live studio audience in New York City.
What some of you may not know is that Lake has cowritten two books, released a four-part DVD series, and served as executive producer on several documentaries. Lake’s award-winning, critically acclaimed documentary The Business of Being Born debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and is often hailed as the “must see” film among mothers-to-be. Lake created this film with fellow filmmaker, Abby Epstein, who served as executive producer.
Lake and Epstein’s latest project, Weed the People, has already become widely popular since it’s premiere screening at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in March 2018 and at other film festivals, such as the Nashville Film Festival in May 2018 where it received the “People’s Choice Award.” We are thrilled to have Lake and Epstein both joining us as speakers at our first east coast conference in Baltimore, Maryland April 8–10 and to be hosting a special screening of Weed the People on the evening of April 9th with a cast and filmmakers Q&A discussion to follow.
What inspired you to create Weed the People?
Ricki Lake: My husband, Christian Evans, is the reason and the catalyst for Weed the People. He passed away on February 11, 2017 but was researching cannabis for his own health issues, both physical and mental, back in 2011–2012. It was at that same time, we met a little girl who was suffering, which led us on a journey to explore integrative care for her that included cannabis oil. That was the start of Weed the People.
What was one of the most surprising things about cannabis that you learned during the process of filming Weed the People?
Lake: The most surprising thing I learned during the making of Weed the People is the hypocrisy with our own government. They hold a patent on this plant and at the same time say there is no medicinal value and it is a Schedule I drug. It makes no sense whatsoever.
There has already been great reception and praise around the film. Are you and Abby Epstein looking ahead to any other follow up projects that are also related to cannabis as a medicine?
Lake: Abby and I are always open to seeing where these projects go and what other stories need to be told. With The Business of Being Born, we ended up making a four-part educational series called More Business of Being Born, because there was so much interest and more information to share.
The CSC Events team is excited to have other participants of the film involved with the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference East, including Tracy, Josh, and Sophie Ryan. What has it been like getting to know these families on a personal level?
Lake: It has been wonderful getting to know the families personally over the course of the last six years. I am so grateful to all of them for entrusting us to tell their stories. My husband Christian was able to get especially close to Chico, Sophie, and little AJ. All of the families are incredibly brave and will undoubtedly help so many others by letting us document their journeys.
About the Columnist
Joshua Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads” and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. Crossney is also the president and CEO of CSC Events. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]
How to Cite This Article
J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 2(1), 28-30 (2019).