Discovery's "Weed Country" Shows the Good, the Bad, and the BS of Medical Marijuana
Posted by Catelyn Snow | 19100 views
By Catelyn Snow
Who is scarier; MMJ growers or police dressed like this?
(Click to enlarge)
With the growing popularity of medical marijuana and an increasing number of states legalizing either medical or recreational marijuana use, reality show producers are realizing that shows about marijuana may very well be big business.
On February 20, The Discovery Channel aired a new MMJ-themed "reality" show, called Weed Country, which thus far has proven to be more sensationalism than healing. It follows the exploits of medical marijuana growers and distributors in the area known as California (and now Oregon's) "Emerald Triangle," as well as the law enforcement officers who are dedicated to stopping them.
I Cannot Stand "Reality" Shows, But I Love Weed! -- Will I Like This One?
The main complaints about "reality" shows is the lack of actual reality, and Weed Country is no exception. The show is being heavily criticized for what actual growers are calling unrealistic sensationalism, and that it negatively and inaccurately represents the MMJ industry.
Episode one offers clearly-intensified scenarios that are meant to make it appear that our industry is much more dangerous than it is.
In one scene, grower Mike Boutin transports a crop down the coast (a trip that the show refers to as a "drug run") as the narrator explains that "bandits" and police intervention are the main enemies.
A "strange" car begins to follow the distributor and the show attempts to make this completely benign situation appear to be intense. They even add the sound of Boudin cocking a gun in preparation for a possible confrontation as he pulls over to let the car pass.
Of course, after a commercial break, the "strange" car passes by innocently. Crisis not only averted, but invented.
Sensationalism at it's Most Egregious
Like many other reality shows, Weed Country uses additional footage to add to the boldness of the program.
The show only spends six minutes covering legitimate medical marijuana patients, including a retired police officer and a mother who uses cannabis to successfully control her young son's seizure disorder. The rest is comprised mostly of aerial shots of perfectly legal Oregon MMJ grows, while Sheriff Mike Winters of Jackson County, OR, discusses the size and scale of these grows — all of which are within the 24-plant limit that Oregon requires.
Also shown is a staged assault on an imaginary grow, utilizing the Jackson County SWAT team (apparently they had nothing better to do), which officers explain as a training exercise. What it was doing on television, I will never be able to explain. The scene was about as exciting as watching my cat sleep, but not as cute.
Hurting the Medical Marijuana Industry
According to "Jay Smoker" from WeedBlog.com, "Not only does [the show] put a bad light on medical marijuana, it sensationalizes the cops, the growers, and the distributors into a prime example of "bad" reality television."
Jay is completely right. And not only does the show sensationalize our industry, it appears to blame us for Mexican Cartel violence. Weed Country even choses to compose a segment illustrating Cartel violence; juxtaposing images of weapons with bodies on gurneys, as though somehow growers are responsible.
This would be laughable if it were not possible that some people are gullible enough to connect the two.
Gems of Wisdom from Sheriff Mike Winters
Perhaps the most unlikable person on the show (for growers) is Sheriff Mike Winters, who seems to have a strange personal vendetta against marijuana, and truly believes that he will single-handedly eradicate the "problem."
He actually believes that marijuana is the downfall of America; not political infighting, not financial scams or a dismal economy. Not even global warming or endless occupation of foreign countries. Marijuana.
"I've seen a decline, in my opinion, of America from 'great' to 'good.' I don't want to see it decline," says Winters to those who would like to see marijuana legalized and regulated like alcohol. "Drugs are going to be the downfall of this country, and I am going to stop it."
Never mind that cannabis and its related products have been utilized forever; or that during the Revolutionary War, farmers were actually required to grow it (in hemp form because of its multitude of uses) or risk a jail sentence, or that The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Downfall of America. Yep.
Weed Country has five more episodes (thankfully, it is a MINI-series, not a full one), then it will be replaced by what is likely an equally sensationalist show, titled Pot Cops. They're pretty creative with the titles over there at Discovery Channel.
But It's Not All Bad
The show also endeavors to show some actual people who grow and research medical marijuana, along with their triumphs and pitfalls. Self described "mad scientist" Nathaniel Morris explains that he is actually more of a researcher than a grower, and let me tell you that there is plenty of room in this industry for all types.
Morris, who also describes himself as "not a TV guy" is the one responsible for working with the mother who I mentioned earlier, who was desperate to ease her child's suffering.
Morris knows that his actions are technically illegal and that by putting them on television he may be opening himself up to possible problems, but "after I'm shown helping the woman's child with epilepsy, they cut to a scene of police in masks, shooting guns in the woods," Morris said. "They look like the scary ones."
He couldn't be more correct.
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Article by Catelyn Snow, on Feb. 28th 2013