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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: On “Weed Wars,” drug clichés go up in smoke

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by Matt Zoller Seitz
December 1, 2011 7:53 PM
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A new reality show depicts an Oakland, Calif., medical marijuana clinic as just another small business
A new reality show depicts an Oakland, Calif., medical marijuana clinic as just another small business

“I run a family business, and the business is cannabis,” says Steve D’Angelo, a central character in Discovery’s new series Weed Wars and the co-founder and executive director of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, which distributes medical marijuana to almost 100,000 customers. D’Angelo’s matter-of-fact statement sums up the tone of this series, which treats the Harborside Heath Center as just another family-owned (albeit nonprofit) business, ultimately not too different from a veterinary clinic, a hair salon or a tattoo parlor.

Well, OK, there is one major difference: Although the clinic’s main product can be sold legally to any California resident with a medical permit to buy it, the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 narcotic, as dangerous to the republic as crack cocaine. That means that in addition to the usual entrepreneurial headaches, D’Angelo and his brother Andrew, the clinic’s general manager, live in fear of a massive bust by the DEA on whatever pretext — a catastrophe that would wipe out everything they’ve built.

You can read the rest of of Matt's piece here at Salon.

Matt Zoller Seitz is publisher of Press Play and TV critic for Salon.com.

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