Green Gold

Steef Fleur

2014 - Ongoing

California, United States

Imagine a crop that can replace plastic, isolation materials, synthetics, cotton, the majority of medications, cure cancer and by doing so, even reduce the human footprint, improve climate change and economic growth, all over the world. If we only we would have a crop that could do all this.

We do, but is its forbidden in over 95% percent of the world. Forbidden because Mexican workers in the 70ties liked to smoke a joint to relax after their fourteen-hour workdays and the US government needed something to punish them on. So, stimulated by the textile and pharmaceutical industries that knew they would be out of business if the crop would stay in it, cannabis made it’s way up the opium list. Even though it had been used for many purposes for thousands of years already.

After being banned for over four decades cannabis is now fighting its way back into the modern day world, but it is as Albert Einstein said: "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Society still sees cannabis as a drug and is being kept in this disillusion on purpose. The endless possibilities need to be shown to society in order to shift their thinking and start using cannabis towards its full possibilities and towards a sustainable world.

Green Gold shows how cannabis improves both our life and the world we live in, but how we misuse it now. The project breaks taboos, shatters stigmas and sheds new light on the benefits of the world’s most useful plant.

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  • Humboldt County California. After six months of hard work and taking care, a farmer is proud of her crop.

  • Sonoma County, California. Inside the lab of Mara Gordans company Aunt Zelda. A data-driven developer of cannabis-based plan medicines.

  • São Paulo, Brazil. Medical patient takes her daily THC paste.

  • Humboldt County, California. Harvest season.

  • In 2004 Croatia based Canadees Rick Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma skin cancer. After surgery on the spot close to his right eye, it worsened when it got infected. He put THC extract and a bandage on it for four days, when taking it of, the cancer was gone. He repeated the treatment with the spots on his cheek and chest. They disappeared and he knew he had cured his cancer with cannabis. His doctor told him that was impossible and sent him away.

  • Santa Cruz, California. Founded in 1993, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is the America's oldest continuously operating medical cannabis collective. They sell cannabis and self made tinctures to seriously ill cancer patients without profit. Tinctures are made of this frozen cannabis extract.

  • São Paulo, Brazil. Clarian has Dravet syndrome and with 60 seizures a week, was in and out of hospitals and could do nothing but lay in bed up until the age of ten. Her mom found out about CBD oil and convinced her neurologist to try it on her daughter under medical circumstances. Clarian is twelve now, down to six light seizures a week walks,talks and plays.

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although the use is decriminalised in Brazil, the plant is still illegal. To get cannabis you have to grow it yourself or buy it from the many young drug traffickers. Like Thiago (alias), 16 years old, growing up in a favela in Zona Norte of Rio, selling cannabis and many other drugs.

  • Merced, California. Sister Darcy is making CBD oil for medical use. She and sister Kate are known as the Sisters of the Valley, growing cannabis for medication. The plants they use are low in THC, so they're not allowed to have more then the twelve you can have in Merced County. When their products are finished, they do not longer contain THC and are considered Hemp. Hemp is still illegal to grow in the US, but the products they can ship over the whole world. Therefore they have trouble keeping up with the demand.

  • Fresno, California. There are many ways to use cannabis. Eating is one of them. With a medical in California you can buy THC potato chips, ketchup, pretzels, popcorn and many other eatables.

  • Oude Pekela, The Netherlands. With hemp fibers you can replace, isolation materials, synthetics, cotton and plastic. The fiber is much stronger and is used for the interior of some high-end cars like BMW, Mercedes and Bugatti.

  • Palm Springs, California. Harvesting cannabis is a secure job. Most dispensaries in California don't grow their own weed. This dispensary in Palm Springs goes from seed to patient.

  • Oaxland, California. Ed Rosenthal is known as the "Ganja Guru" because of all the books he wrote and published on how to grow marijuana. He and his wife Jane believe cannabis keeps them young.

  • Fresno, California. Krystal Kitahara is an entrepreneur and cannabis lover. She saw the opportunity to create cannabis products like eatables and tinctures that appeal to women. Today she owns a company with several employees and a much bigger perspective with the upcoming recreational legalisation.

  • Santa Rosa, California. Cannabis is still in a grey zone in California. Most transactions in hydro stores are still made in cash. Dispensaries can't open a bank account because to federal law they are criminals. Some of them have an ATM in the store for that reason.

  • Los Angeles, California. Ophelia Chong is an teacher at the Los Angeles Art center. She told her students for years to photograph cannabis, because it would be big and she knew they had the access, because they were all stoned in her class. None of them listened, but she started a stock agency for cannabis photography and had to take a break teaching, because she is so busy with the company.

  • Appelscha, The Netherlands. Although you can legally buy cannabis in the Netherlands, growing marijuana is illegal. Doede de Jonge is an organic grower who grew out in the open, to make a point to the justice system. In 2011 ago the police came and took all his plants. Last year, as the first grower, he was plead guilty but not punished. He does still need to pay a 23.000,00 euro fine, because he did not pay taxes over his crop.

  • Humboldt, California. It is the perfect climate to grow cannabis. Hippies have been doing so since the sixties and have led a good life off the profit of the plant. But it is about to change. Weed is the fastest growing part of the American economy and it won’t take long till companies like Monsanto and Philip Morris claim their share of the pie. While this has huge benefits on a social level it also means the end of small time farming and an independent culture.

  • Humboldt, California. The harvest hanging to dry, hidden, in a room full of vans and dehumidifiers.

  • São Paulo, Brazil. Praça por do Sol is one of the places in Brazil where people gather at the and of the day to enjoy the view, drink a beer and smoke their cannabis.