When this doc played the film festival last year, the success of Initiative 502 was still fresh in our minds. Now, two years after our state voted to legalize pot, despite some dire warnings, the sky hasn’t fallen—stoners aren’t rolling in the gutters; the feds aren’t raiding private homes. This very partisan film by Riley Morton and Nils Cowan emphatically celebrates the activists and organizers who brought the measure to a vote, but Evergreen’s return engagement seems belated—like a victory lap run long after the fans have left the darkened stadium. Life has moved on to mundane matters of business licensing and tax collection. Venture capitalists, seen at the film’s end, have big plans for lawful pot sold outside those sketchy old dispensaries. Someone’s going to make a fortune becoming the Starbucks of marijuana. Evergreen hints at that conflict to come, but it mainly sticks the fake drama of a long-past election, its outcome known to all (last year as well).
On the side of the angels: philanthropist Rick Steves, city attorney Pete Holmes, and I-502 campaign director Alison Holcomb. Fronting the greedy opposition (boo! Hiss!) are Doug Hiatt and former SW cover boy Steve Sarich, both determined to protect their profitable turf. This internecine battle is anything but mellow, and Evergreen makes clear the conflict is primarily about the Benjamins, not the hemp.
Still, even if the film is way behind the current news cycle, it’s an enduring tribute to populist politics—not just in predictably block-voting Seattle, but in our shamefully red-leaning cousin counties. As we look at the 2014 midterm elections, when Republicans will almost certainly make Obama a powerless lame duck, here’s a rare case where urban and rural interests converge. Three generations ago, Prohibition was rejected as a national joke. Evergreen has the same bubbly spirit of democracy in action. (Note: The filmmakers and select subjects will appear at the Friday and Saturday screenings.)
Runs Fri., June 27–Thurs., July 3 at SIFF Film Center. Not rated. 86 minutes.