Being from Florida one needs to know a few thing’s.
White Sands, Blue Water Palm Tree’s of and
Recruiting has begun,
Richard Cranor is the creator and director of ‘Star Leaf,’ the sci-fi
horror/comedy about an alien strain of super-potent cannabis and the
group of enthusiasts who seek it out deep in the Olympic Mountains; the
film pursues and explores the deeply personal connections that many
people discover when using cannabis.
Richard recently launched Star Leaf brand cannabis products in
Washington’s I-502 marketplace as part of his continued dedication to
“the Star Leaf universe.” In this written interview, we ask Richard about
his inspirations for the film, his experiences learning to navigate the 502
marketplace, and how his career as an artist has influenced the decisions
he faces while expanding a cannabis-centric enterprise.
Could you talk about your inspiration for creating Star Leaf, the film?
I had a brother return from Iraq with a pretty bad case of PTSD. I
also had stage 3 testicular cancer in 2010. Both experiences
made me realize how important it is to have alternatives to
what the status quo considers to be “healthcare”. Nature
provides a lot of opportunities for healing, but I truly believe
there are forces in our society more concerned with profit than
our well being, and that ultimately undermines a lot of
opportunities to find real health and prosperity within our
culture. I kept coming across accounts of how Cannabis and
certain psychedelics really helped people overcome serious
trauma, both physical and mental. To me, plants act as chemical
gateways that alter our conditioned neural pathways so we can
suspend our five sense programming long enough for deeper
insights to emerge from our collective unconscious, something
we all share and is a source of great healing. So it’s really
important to have free access to the plant kingdom without
those in our society with less than altruistic motives mucking up
the process. So Star Leaf is about helping people see what
cannabis really does offer, besides the usual stoner tropes often
associated exclusively with it.
When did you decide there would be an accompanying brand of cannabis
products for the film?
I had to have actual weed in the film, since fake cannabis plants
range about $400.00 each. With our low budget, that was out of
the question. I had also always thought it would be great to
have a film that raises consciousness about alternative health
treatments and PTSD, but then also have a real life product that
can actually physically help with those issues! So it was a win-
win in my opinion to always push to have a film about cannabis
and actual cannabis to go with it, hoping to achieve a
synergistic purpose and effect. A lot of great films out there do a
lot of good to inspire people, but if ours could have an actual
“tool” to “explore the universe” as we say, alongside watching
the film’s philosophical themes play out, man…how can you go
How have Washington’s I-502 regulations complicated your business
We actually had a strain going for a while before I-502 came
out, with the help of a local medical grower. People loved it. But
as soon as the I-502 legislation came into effect, we had to shut
down that arrangement. Luckily for us we’ve found a great
partner with Phoenix Cannabis that is producing some really
quality stuff. But it took a lot of education and wrangling on our
part to find the right business solution that benefits all partners.
It’s working, so that’s a good thing.
What was your vetting process like when choosing the right grower to
partner with to create the Star Leaf strains?
People in the medical side of cannabis, former patients who’d
gone to dispensaries for years, they became big supporters of
Star Leaf. We really didn’t want to let them down when we were
required to comply with I-502 laws and regulations which focus
mostly on the needs of the recreational market. We chose
Phoenix Cannabis for several reasons. One they use organic
farming methods to produce some great cannabis and we feel
that lives up to the Star Leaf ethos. Two, they have been
cultivating at a commercial scale since I-502 legalized
production and are very focused on quality and consistency of
their product, the hallmarks of branded products. Phoenix also is
committed to their standards no matter how the market
fluctuates. We like that. There’s a lot of juggling to do with the
changing landscape of legalization and the supply and demands
of a recreational market, but we have found Phoenix Cannabis
to be a very solid, trustworthy partner.
Where do you see the Star Leaf brand in five years? Is there perhaps a
sequel to the film — or plans for new products — in the works?
On the cannabis front, we’re still actively moving forward with
a strain high in CBD medicinal strain specifically for help with
PTSD. We feel that is an important offering aligned with the
themes of the movie. Assuming the flower products continue to
enjoy great success, it also would be natural to expand into
edibles and concentrates. We also have a rather unorthodox
product in the works, but that’s for another time. We offer Star
Leaf paraphernalia, DVDs, apparel, and other items for sale as
well. We also hope that by this time next year, Star Leaf will
have landed in other states too.
A sequel is definitely in the works. We are currently shooting a
small web series that promotes our current cannabis line, and
stores, budtenders, and fans of Star Leaf in general will be a part
of it. It’s a very unique opportunity within the cannabis world
right now, and as far as we know, we’re the only ones doing it.
We don’t want to be that corporate “brand” whose
headquarters is a 5000 miles away, out of touch with what’s
really going on with their customers and community. It’s much
more fun to be intimate and personal, sharing the Star Leaf
culture with everyone and having everyone interact and add to
it in some way. We’re lucky in the sense that our “brand” isn’t
just about a look or sense of “status”, but is more about vision
and shared ideals for a better world through scifi cannabis
movies and products, which believe it or not, I think are
Many of the modern world’s greatest innovations were
influenced by scifi movies and authors (Star Trek,anyone), and
we’re happy to leading the way with Star Leaf in the cannabis
Wow, were you concerned about filming with live plants in Washington
state, where personal grows remain illegal even though possession and
consumption are allowed? Also, were these plants grown specifically for
the movie and, we have to ask, what eventually happened to the plants
that appear in the film?
I knew I needed real plants not just for authenticity’s sake but
also for the plain fact that if the movie failed, at least we could
sell the weed, right? Actually just kidding… we were given 30
plants from Ohana Farms out of Bainbridge Island, WA to be
specifically planted and grown for a medical co-op community
garden. This was back before i502 came into effect when you
could grow up the 45 plants for medical patients. This “Garden
of Weeden” as we say in the film served two purposes then, to
both serve as medicine for patients and my film set for the film.
We selected several key strains though that could eventually
form the genetics of an eventual Star Leaf strain which I had
always wanted to create in real life, and made sure the patients
were ok with those choices. The plants worked great for filming
purposes, but we were forced to plant late in the season (July)
and outdoors which in Washington state is very risky due to how
wet things get out here. I unfortunately had to go to China for a
business trip and leave my plants unattended for a week and
when I got back, a mold infestation had destroyed most of the
plants. We also lost one plant to a slug earlier on. So none of the
plants ever made it into anyone’s bong unfortunately.
How many people who worked on the film have been involved in the new
cannabis line, and how many people currently work for Star Leaf
Star Leaf Enterprises is not actually a cannabis grow operation.
The company markets a variety of products and merchandise
that are related to the movie and its themes. Importantly to us,
we have now added cannabis to that product line.
Administratively, we essentially license the Star Leaf brand to
cannabis grow operations who are 1) committed to product
quality and consistency, and 2) aligned with our message of
consciousness exploration and alternative health and healing
. Currently, we have a small team of entrepreneurs navigating
the business opportunities and engage outside consultants as
needed for legal, accounting, marketing, agricultural, and other
What’s the toughest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your journey
with Star Leaf, so far? And what’s been the most rewarding?
First off, anytime you tell someone you’re going to make a
serious alien weed movie that’s going to bring awareness to
issues like PTSD – as well as expose an ET conspiracy to control
humanity by using trauma as a backdoor into human minds,
you’re going to be greeted with a fair amount of skepticism.
That’s fine, because I love to surprise people with the
Second, the hardest thing is the film business itself is pretty
much bankrupt for independent filmmakers. Bootleggers make
it impossible to get a decent ROI off your film. Unless you’ve got
Alist talent and huge marketing budgets, making a profitable
independent film is extremely difficult. But my goal was never
really about making a one-off film, I wanted to create a world
and culture where a lot of different and important things, some
of which are very underrated in their importance to the public,
come together to serve and help everyone taking part in the
culture. The movie (and coming sequels) are there to frame the
issues and worldviews we all share and want answers to in our
real life and the cannabis products are there to help ground the
philosophical models in a body reality.
Somehow I managed to convince a lot of very sane people to try
and make a very insane idea reality real and it’s actually
working better than anybody ever thought. So that is both the
most challenging thing and most rewarding thing at the same
time, to see this dream actually coming true. I would say the
most rewarding thing is when anyone whose experienced PTSD
or some kind of trauma say the film has helped them. That
means a lot, because it means me and my partners have
succeeded in a way the bottom line can’t accurately measure,
yet it still leaves us all with a sense of worth and wealth and a
job well done. One thing I find really rewarding personally is
we’ve just added a high CBD strain to our line of products, which
is a huge win for me. We don’t want to leave the medical people
behind who supported us so much in our early days, and were
going to continue to try and bring more medical products to a
recreational dominated market as much as we can while living
in today’s business reality.
Do you see Star Leaf expanding or franchising into cannabis markets
outside of Washington state?
We’re very excited to bring the Star Leaf experience to as many
consumers as we can. Expanding the brand to additional states
is an obvious next step. We have recently begun the process of
identifying and vetting growers and/or processors in other pro
-cannabis states who are interested in joining the Star Leaf
universe via a licensing arrangement.
With so many artists who are undoubtedly interested in the cannabis
space, could you share some advice for how to apply your artistic passion
to this unique industry?
You can’t think about it from a money point of view, at least at
first. You need to be conscious of business realities, but if you are
just trying to “take” money from others, you’re not going to be
plugging into your greatest potential. My brother’s PTSD from
Iraq and my own journey with cancer and a kundalini
awakening forced me to wake up to the realities of a bigger
world, and how I might try and contribute to making it better.
That belief in conviction is what will get your through the dark
moments where your dream fades and you think it’s going to
fail, and its the only thing that will inspire others to give their
120% as well. It’s also something that your customers will
innately sense about you and they’ll trust you because of it. You
can’t think of your ‘product’ as something that is bought and
sold, but something that gives value to people’s lives, and I don’t
mean monetary value. If you’re an artist, your job is to act as a
shaman really for our modern western culture, which doesn’t
have true medicine men and women anymore. Even if you’re
just selling a pipe with really cool carb technology in it, be sure
to make your product and business model give service and
inspiration to the community it sells to beyond just whatever
cool features the product may have innately.
I feel nowadays people want to invest in “brands” that
represent their values. So make sure your values and your
business plans are always congruent. And honestly, the more
raw passion and emotion you feel, the more you need to channel
it and not be afraid of what people tell you is right or wrong,
smart or stupid. You just need to go for it – and find like-
minded friends and partners willing to invest in your vision. If
you’re not an egomaniac and your idea is actually pretty good,
chances are your friends/partners will help you define your
vision more clearly and find the flaws in it to make it better and
compete in a real business reality.
I’ve definitely made some mistakes along the way, but I’m
proud of the fact that I found a way to combine my artistic
talents with an altruistic motivation that eventually led me to
find the right partners to create a business model that is
working and expanding at a miraculous rate. But that
neverwould’ve happened if I didn’t believe in the value of the
art itself and it’s bigger mission. So if you’re thinking about the
cannabis space, be sure your values are aligned with those
traditionally held by the cannabis community, and don’t just
think you can make a fast buck selling weed.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today, Richard! To
learn more about the film Star Leaf, visit www.starleafmovie.com. To find
and purchase Star Leaf brand cannabis, you visit Clear Choice Cannabis in