Silver Spring-based Discovery Channel wants viewers to toke on its upcoming reality series “Weed Wars,” which follows two DC-raised siblings and their Oakland, CA clinic Harborside Health Center – the nation’s biggest dispenser of medical marijuana.
Raised inside the Beltway where their dad worked for the Kennedy administration, the cannabis crusade of Harborside’s executive director Steve DeAngelo and general manager Andrew DeAngelo are rooted in a rich family tradition of activism, beginning with their parents’ involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and their dad’s work with the Peace Corps.
“My family, we were taught to stand up for what we believe and what we think is right,” Steve told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour Friday (July 29) in Beverly Hills. “I grew up in Washington D.C. One of my very first memories is of my parents making sandwiches and all three of us going down to Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963 and handing those sandwiches out to the marchers there.
“We were taught to stand up for what we believe in. And I’ve seen what this medicine does for suffering patients. I’m confident that if the American people get to know my family, our staff, our patients, and the way that we handle cannabis, that they are going to come to support our cause, and all of the people who need this medicine so desperately will be able to get it one day.”
Steve, Andrew and Harborside’s co-founder David Weddingdress all said they have conditions that led them to medical marijuana years ago. (Andrew has glaucoma, Steve has degenerative disc disease and Weddingdress has chronic back and knee pain.)
While medical marijuana is legal in California with a doctor’s note, it’s still a federal no-no, leaving Harborside under constant threat of being raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Needless to say, the clinic’s forthcoming spotlight on national television won’t help matters.
“At any moment, the federal government could come bursting through our doors and arrest us and prosecute us and do terrible things to our lives,” said Steve. “The reason that we do it is because we believe in this plant. We have seen the way that it heals people.”
To emphasize his point, Steve recalled an encounter with a Harborside patient who was sitting on a nearby bench in tears.
“I walked over to her to find out what was wrong, and she burst into a big smile when she looked up at me, and she said, ‘Nothing is wrong. I’m just so happy. For the first time since I got rheumatoid arthritis five years ago, I’ve been able to unclinch my hands.’ When you see things like that, it’s very, very difficult to walk away from our mission, which is to bring the truth about this plant to the American people,” he said. “That’s what viewers will see on the show.”
“Weed Wars,” produced for Discovery by LA-based Braverman Productions, will premiere in November. Discovery Channel’s official syopsis is below:
- The new series pulls back the curtain on a once illegal and still controversial world. In addition to founder and executive director Steve DeAngelo and his staff, WEED WARS follows the journey of the plant itself from seed germination to harvesting. Meet the growers and “patient farmers” whose job it is to provide the “medicine” – the buds – that will eventually be purchased and used by thousands of clients, many of whom feel their lives have been forever changed by the plant. From the earnest and knowledgeable front counter staff to the rigorous lab testing of the cannabis to City Hall protests and the constant police monitoring and security sweeps, WEED WARS offers a look at a world unlike any other.