by David Downs
Legalization Nation has obtained an early copy of the first episode of The Discovery Channel's new series Weed Wars, which begins airing Dec. 1 at 10 p.m. The reality TV series documents the lives of people at the largest dispensary on the West Coast, Oakland's Harborside Health Center, and it's virtually guaranteed to draw both positive and negative attention to medical marijuana in Oakland.
On one hand, Weed Wars captures the benefits of Harborside's existence, showing repeated examples of the sick and dying obtaining marijuana easily and with dignity, and testifying to both its safety and efficacy.
Yet the series also shows Harborside staff acknowledging that some patients do not have obvious medical issues, and want to use the drug to relax and alter their mood. (As one of several subplots, Harborside cashier "Terry" struggles with a lack of motivation and an expensive weed habit. His solution: try growing it.)
Episode one's central plot revolves around a tax dispute with the city of Oakland, but that's kind of incidental, given how little most of America knows about daily life at Harborside. Mostly, it's a half-hour-long cultural wormhole — full of music by Snoop Dogg, The Black Keys and Thievery Corporation — that will transport middle America into scenes involving ponytails, tie-dye, copious amounts of high-quality cannabis, cross-dressing entrepreneurs, bong rips, red eyes, and no small amount of giggling. Federal authorities maintain Harborside is a drug-trafficking organization no different than the murderous Sinaloa cartel, and Weed Wars is almost guaranteed to be used by drug warriors in Washington D.C. as "Exhibit A" in the case against California's medical marijuana law.
Much like the national attention Prop 19 got last year Weed Wars is going to be both polarizing and galvanizing — we're definitely tuning in each week.