Premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel is the new reality TV show “Weed Wars.” The show explores the world of medical marijuana at the retail level. The show will be based out of one of California’s largest medicinal weed dispensary, Oakland’s Harborside Health Center.
Chuck Braverman, executive producer for “Weed Wars”, insists he did not set out to make a “message film,” claiming that the reality series about the business of medical marijuana does not have a pro or con slant “one way or another.” But does he think it has the power to change minds? Absolutely.
Upon arriving at Harborside in January, Braverman was convinced that a lot of people were going there “just to get high.” But as he spent more time in the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, he came to believe that a “much larger percentage of the patients there were really in need of the medicine.” Braverman said that some of the most compelling segments in “Weed Wars” are tied to before-and-after patient stories.
“I think they’re going to shock and surprise a lot of viewers,” he said, referring specifically to a 67-year-old suffering from high blood pressure and anxiety, who had never smoked marijuana in his life, and a child with severe epilepsy. (He went out of his way to avoid providing any spoilers). Braverman’s production company was approached by Discovery in Sept. 2010 and the original plan was to do a documentary on several Northern California medical marijuana facilities. But upon meeting Steve DeAngelo at Harborside, he was so impressed with the center and its charismatic co-founder, that he decided to narrow his focus.
With Braverman’s son, Alex, handling most of the location duties, camera crews spent about six months shooting at Harborside and going home with the De Angelos, employees and patients. They also captured scenes of growing and harvesting. Altogether, Braverman estimates they shot about 700 hours of footage for the four-episode series. (Shooting was also done at Harborside’s San Jose location, but it didn’t make the cut for Season 1).