Roseanne Barr talks politics, pot before Denver documentary premiere

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Roseanne Barr’s 2012 presidential bid never had a serious chance of succeeding politically. But that wasn’t really the point.

As she has for decades, Barr roused the rabble in 2012 with her alternately laconic and fiery underdog messages. She addressed class chasms, marijuana legalization and other causes in speeches that spirited her around the country, reminding fans that she’s long been an advocate of average Americans.

Captured in the 2015 documentary “Roseanne for President!,” which includes interviews with supporters and friends like Sandra Bernhard and Michael Moore, the 63-year-old comedian’s unexpected dip into politics is still paying off from a personal marketing perspective — long after Roseanne’s award-winning, groundbreaking ABC sitcom went off the air.

We talked to Barr over the phone from Los Angeles this week before the documentary’s premiere at the Sie FilmCenter, including a July 16 appearance from Barr, as well as her July 18 headlining date at Denver’s Comedy Works — the club where she got her start in stand-up.

Q: How do you think a documentary about your 2012 presidential bid bears on this election cycle? Why should people see it?

A: I think they should go see the movie to see how Bernie and Trump and Hillary were influenced by my 2012 campaign. All three have borrowed heavily from my campaign, which I’m glad to see because I think I did raise important issues that hadn’t been raised before and that hadn’t been part of the regular conversation of the election.

Q: Like what?

A: Like Socialism, the war on drugs, patriarchy, rape culture, the failed Senate, things like that.

Q: In the documentary, you say: “I am here not to trick you but to tell you the truth.” What truths are you telling?

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A: (That) it’s all just mind control. People think they’re free walking around in this country but they’re not, and I think my documentary shows that. There’s no real freedom of choice as long as issues that affect regular people don’t make it to the ballot. You know, it’s not a free election or anything else. It’s all about the ballot and I wanted to show that, to shine the light on our election system.

Q: Have you considered running for a smaller office? Of course, that pretty much includes all of them when you’re starting with the presidency.

A: No, I haven’t. I think 2012 was actually the last hope of a free election we’ll have in this country. I’m done with it. I’ve moved on. I’ve already declared myself president for life.

Q: Between you, “The Daily Show” and other examples, why do you think comedians make such effective political critics?

A: We’re thinkers and masters of words and ideas. That’s what comedy is: trying to wake people up. It’s kind of impossible in this country. But people should see my documentary because they need to see how the system is rigged every step of the way, from top to bottom.

Q: I see you’re playing Comedy Works on this trip. Do you feel loyal to that club since you got your start there while living in Denver in the 1980s?

A: I’m not their publicist. But my first time was definitely there, in 1980. I got that thrill from performing. I battled a really sexist establishment (in Denver stand-up) in the beginning, but my audience is full of smart people. Thinkers.

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Q: What was your reaction upon seeing that Colorado legalized recreational marijuana?

A: That was one of the cornerstones of my campaign. We said “Yes we cannabis!” and that’s a real freedom issue, and I think it goes right to the heart of everything in this country. It’s the war on drugs, it’s the way they locked our country down and brought facism here. The legalization of marijuana I think solves about 75 percent of all our problems in this country. But my reaction? I was very humbled and very proud because Colorado was only one of three states where I was on the ballot (in 2012; the other two were California and Florida). It’s a free state and there’s a lot thinkers and they like freedom there.

Q: You’re opening your own medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana, Calif. (called Roseanne’s Joint). What do you think Colorado can learn from California on legalization, and vice versa? 

A: I think it’s all vice versa because marijuana needs to be fully legalized in California, and it still isn’t, and I think Colorado and Oregon lead the way. It’s a way to really increase state revenues. That, and hemp production. Like I say in our movie, that’ll save all of our asses. It’s the hope of the future.

Q: Why did you decide to get into the pot business?

A: I was researching it for a long time. It’s a very profitable business for women. I’m a farmer in Hawaii so that’s kind of where the idea came from — hemp even moreso than marijuana. It’s a great crop you can harvest up to four times a year. Now if you’re a farmer and you’re interested in cash crops, it’s the most profitable crop there is.

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Q: In one of the opening scenes of the documentary, you’re seen smoking a joint while driving. Do you have a favorite strain or consumption method?

A: I like stuff that helps cancer patients, people who are really in need of medical marijuana. I like oils that treat illness because it’s a fantastic medicine and I approach it as that.

Q: When did you start smoking pot?

A: Oh, I was very young, like everybody of my generation.

Q: What’s young? Junior high? High school?

A: Yeah, high school.

Q: How was Denver weed in the ’80s?

A: You know, at that time I didn’t use it because I was a young mother with two kids. But I look forward to coming back and investigating it once I’m there.

Q: Finally: How are you voting in this election?

A: I’m voting for myself. I’m writing myself in and I’ll continue to do that until I win.

Syndicated from Denver Post



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