Caron Butler

Caron Butler is shown at the grand reopening of the George Bray Neighborhood YMCA on Feb. 23, 2017. Butler, a Racine native and retired NBA player, is a member of a group preparing to release a documentary regarding minority involvement in the legal marijuana industry called “The Green Dream.”

The legal marijuana industry has taken off, with the key word being “legal.”

While many businesses are vying for customers in states that allow it, a documentary is looking at groups that are left out of the industry.

Racine native and retired NBA player Caron Butler, along with several partners, is preparing to release a documentary regarding minority involvement in the legal marijuana industry called “The Green Dream.” The film is to be released in September or October of this year.

“You look at the people that are benefiting the most off of the marijuana industry, you don’t see any minority-owned individuals, they’re all Caucasian- owned,” Butler said. “I wanted to bring light to that, because if you’re making billions off of that industry but the laws are still affecting the black and brown people the most, shouldn’t that be a perfect segue for minorities to get into that space? Because we’ve been hindered by it the most.”

Butler, an executive producer on the project, originally wanted to do a project on mass incarceration and marijuana, but the project shifted toward the involvement of minorities in states where cannabis is legalized.

“It’s been a generational curse for black and brown people for years,” Butler said. “I look at the marijuana industry and how we’ve been kind of neglected from that space.”

Across the country, Butler said, prisons contain a high number of black and Latino inmates because of marijuana violations; he believes people in those demographic groups should be more involved in the marijuana industry.

“We want to put a magnifying glass on what’s happening in the cannabis industry, where people of black and brown descent are being excluded from that space,” Butler said. “We’ve been hindered in the past the most by that industry (marijuana).”

The documentary cost about $500,000 to make. Butler said he put in some of his own money toward the project.

Butler said they have finished filming and are currently looking for the right venue to release it. Among the possible locations being explored are Netflix, Hulu, CNN Films and theaters.

“We’re still in the process of pushing it, but it’s going to be well worth it,” Butler said. “It’s not a money thing or capital gains thing. I think most importantly, it’s about making a difference and bringing awareness to a cause that’s bigger than us.”

Butler said this project has been close to his heart, and that the team that put it together are looking forward to the film’s release.

“We’ve been passionate about this,” Butler said. “We always wanted to be able to put out content that’s meaningful.”

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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