TV Review: 'Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom'

Right on the heels of MSNBC's Pot Barons of Colorado comes CNBC's Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom, the follow-up to last year's Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush.

Harry Smith returns to the Centennial State a year after recreational marijuana sales began there. He visits with many of the same "barons" MSNBC portrayed in its six-part series, like Medicine Man. "We're not a bunch of stoners sitting around in tie-dyed t-shirts smoking pot," Sally Vander Veer annoyingly reminds. "This is a pure American industry." She pretty much told the same thing to MSNBC. Her brother Andy Williams' unbridled pursuit of money is equally grating (his mantra is "We want to be the Costco of marijuana"). 

Smith takes a detour to a black market grower/seller, who has a medical license and considers his exchanges donations, not sales. Illegal purchases run "a third of the cost" compared to legal ones in licensed stores.

Colorado AG John Suthers says, "The black market starts at a very basic level. People going in, buying it legally, walking out and selling it illegally - that's how the kids are getting it. Thirty-eight percent of kids that have marijuana tells us they get it from somebody who bought it legally. The truly large black market is the extent to which we're becoming the supplier of marijuana in states where it's illegal. So we are the black market for Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and apparently up to 40 other states that have indicated to us we've seized Colorado packaged marijuana…

'Are we eliminating the criminal element? I'm not too sure. There's no indication that the presence of the cartels in Colorado has been reduced.'

Smith traces two families' journeys to Colorado from Texas and New Jersey in search of high-CBD oil for their kids who suffer from seizures. Both were on a waiting list for "Charlotte's Web" from the Stanley Brothers at the hefty price of $10,000 for a month's supply. Denver Health Hospital is currently studying the effect of CBD on children. "We're medical refugees," Jenny Storm explains.

Smith's edibles segment (see clip below) covers familiar Pot Barons territory, with Incredibles owner Bob Eschino declaring, "Edibles now are safer than they've ever been," and Dixie Brands CEO Chuck Smith insisting, "We are the iconic brand." He also interviews a University of Colorado Hospital toxicologist about the effects of eating marijuana.

Smith saves the most significant segment for next to last: about Brandon Coates, the handicapped Dish Network employee who was fired for testing positive for marijuana, leading to an ongoing court case. "I was under the impression that we had passed a law and we had made it legal," Coates says.

The biggest problem with Marijuana Country is the overlap with Pot Barons and Sanjay Gupta's Weed specials. But Smith is fair and unbiased, and appears to lean towards the legalization side.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.