Oberfelder’s Cannabis Farm

The good, the bad and the happy



What: Oberfelder’s Cannabis Farm
When: 5pm Sun., June 10
Where: Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St.
Cost: $7.50-$10.75

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Much like most people who voted to make Washington one of the first states to legalize marijuana, I assume that most of those involved in the cultivation and sale of legal weed are doing just fine, if not better than that. Judging by the proliferation of pot shops, the many strains of quality product that can be found within and statistical data that says marijuana and its attendant business sectors comprise one of the fastest-growing industries in the state, you don’t have to be high to think that cultivating cannabis is the only way to farm.

But increasingly, marijuana farmers, particularly those that grow outdoors, are forced to contend with a regulatory mess that is the harshest of tokes, and it all has to do with the fact that despite cannabis being farmed for consumption, it’s not classified by the state as an agricultural crop. The lack of ag designation means the farms aren’t offered the same protections afforded by the Right to Farm Act and other laws, and can be subject to adverse zoning decisions and, more ominously, they can be found to be in violation of the Clean Air Act and fined out of existence.

Basically, if someone can smell the cannabis, a farm can be on the wrong side of the law, and as anyone who has ever tried to hide their stash from their parents knows, it’s not easy to mitigate weed’s distinctive scent.

The harm that can be done to farms due to what sounds a bit like a boring paperwork problem is currently playing out east of the Cascades, where Chelan County is using the legal loophole to try and shut down outdoor marijuana cultivation in a region of the state perfectly suited to such farms. If that isn’t bad enough, the county is taking this action after assuring the owners of almost 40 farms at the outset of legalization that the money they paid and the arduous process they underwent to start or convert existing farms to cannabis would ensure they’d be grandfathered in as the rules and regulations concerning legal weed evolved.

However, there is some potential relief in sight, in the form of House Bill HR 1692, which would reclassify marijuana as an agricultural crop, as well as a new documentary about the subject by local filmmaker Bob Ridgley called Oberfelder’s Cannabis Farm: The Good, the Bad and the Happy.

When Ridgley, who is the longtime owner and operator of Bellingham’s Binary Recording Studio and is known to almost all of us as “Binary Bob,” set out to make his movie, he had no idea that what he thought would be a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a nascent and little-known industry would put him square in the thick of a political and regulatory quandary.

“I decided to make this film to let people know what is really going on behind the closed doors of cannabis farming, doors that are not open to the public,” he says. “Most people just see the end result—cannabis stores—or, they have read something in the media but, there is much more going on. The Liquor Cannabis Control Board is still learning—sometimes at the expense of the farmers.”

Ridgley, with six films to his credit, says documentary filmmaking’s “biggest challenge is to find the human interest story; without it, it’s just a technical film.” With that in mind, he trained his lens on the Oberfelder family, who operate a 16-acre cannabis farm in Chelan County that specializes in outdoor cultivation using organic methods, and do so with their commitment to community and sense of humor firmly intact. The Oberfelders have also been outspoken advocates in the fight to keep the county from saying, “We smelt it, you dealt it” and putting them out of business.

“What surprised me most about this story was how much bias there still is on legal cannabis,” Ridgley says. “Alcohol probation lasted for 13 years. Cannabis probation almost 90. Its going to take some time—it’s still considered the ‘devil’s lettuce’ to many.”

Of course, if it were actual lettuce, the Oberfelders and their cannabis-cultivating compatriots would be in the clear.

When Oberfelder’s Cannabis Farm screens at the Pickford Film Center at 5pm Sun., June 10, Ridgley will be on hand to provide information and answer questions, as will Danielle Rosellison, Whatcom County resident, Cannabis Alliance representative, and one of the authors of HR 1692.

Ridgley says his goals with this screening and others are twofold. “I hope the audience leaves with an educated understanding of legal cannabis—with a smile on their face.” And dovetailing neatly with that objective, “My goal is to educate and help House Bill HR 1692 pass. I want to save these farmers from bankruptcy. Also to help other states that are starting to legalize.”

Ridgley’s aims are altruistic, but he’s also eager to see the culmination of a couple of years of his life flicker across the big screen in front of a live audience.

“After mass hours, long days, lots of travel, not knowing if my idea is going to work, or if anybody is even interested, hoping that you will get that interview, that the camera and audio equipment is working—it is amazing when the film comes together,” Ridgley says. “For me, documentary films are about making people think about something they had no plan of thinking about.”

More Film...
Apollo 11
Found footage of the moon shot

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, first manned moon landing, the documentary Apollo 11 brings back once more the awe of that event. What makes this film different from numerous other such movies is that, in many instances, it utilizes footage never before seen…

more »
Everybody Knows
Of secrets and lies

The outer threat, the inner wound and the mystery in between. These are the determinant factors in Asghar Farhadi’s intimately painful and powerfully acted kidnap drama, crucially anchored by three heavyweight performances from Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Ricardo Darin.

It has been…

more »
The Academy Awards
Heavy metal Hollywood

Oscar is having a tough year.

It would seem the road to Hollywood’s heavy metal is paved with poor decisions and murky intentions on the part of the possibly still esteemed Academy. First, was that thing with the proposed and then rescinded Best Popular Picture category, which was…

more »
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cook It and Book It

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Flavors of the Philippines

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery


7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Punch Up Comedy Showcase and Open Mic

7:30pm|The Shakedown

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Lynden Front Streeters

2:00pm|Village Books

Ferndale Book Group

2:30pm|Ferndale Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Ferndale Books on Tap

6:30pm|DownTime Taps

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Balanced Plant-Based Living

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Moon Walk

6:30pm|Whatcom County

Milo Petersen Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Grain by Grain

7:00pm|Village Books

Burlington-Edison Choir Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Village Books The Hunts
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition


Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Dig Deep

3:00pm|Deming Library

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Pub Run

6:00pm|Stone's Throw Brewery

Ancient Beauty

6:30pm|Deming Library

Native American Flute Workshop

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Cross-Country Bicycling Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Wild Mercy

7:00pm|Village Books

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 The Hunts Legally Blonde Trove Web