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

business concerns.

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 To find

and purchase Star Leaf brand cannabis, you visit Clear Choice Cannabis in

Tacoma, Washington.