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Kevin Smith’s ‘Hollyweed’ TV Show Isn’t Top-Shelf Marijuana Content

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Kevin Smith loves weed. This we know to be true. Continually mentioned in his films and podcasts, the man is a fan of the plant. It’s also, according to his doctor, “probably” the reason he survived a recent heart attack earlier this year. So of course he was going to make a TV show about it.

Described as “Clerks in a weed store”, Hollyweed stars Smith in a rare dialogue-rich role as Pete and former Chappelle’s Show actor Donnell Rawlings as Nipsy, as growers and dispensary operators. Their shop? LA Confidential Caregivers based in, you guessed it, Hollywood.

The show started production a few years ago but the pilot never found a home. Initially turned down by networks, most likely because Netflix’s marijuana show Disjointed was in production, the pilot is now being hosted at Rivit TV. A new platform for media makers, fans get to watch the pilot for free then bid on what they’d pay per episode for the whole season. They’re only charged if the show meets its goal by the deadline.

Unfortunately, that’s likely the most interesting thing about Hollyweed. The storyline is twisty enough to keep you watching, but the rolling-paper-thin plot just barely supports it. A few of the jokes warrant laughs even through the sometimes rigid delivery and pacing. But with movie and comic book references abounding, and Smith’s longtime collaborator Jason Mewes making an appearance (in a questionable portrayal of a person experiencing homelessness), it still has that Kevin Smith flavor.

The pilot starts with Nipsy and Pete in what looks like a flowering room arguing about the presence of dragons in Schindler’s List. Nipsy smokes a joint as Pete trims a plant right where it’s growing. Later, in the shop, a producer-type shouting obscenities at someone through his bluetooth earpiece (an almost-believable performance by Adam Brody) walks in and demands “the best stuff” he can get for a thick wad of bills. Sensing the chance to take advantage of this L.A. stereotype, Nipsy tells Pete to “go in the safe” to get “three ounces of Anal Destruction.” Minutes before, Pete tells one of their regulars (played by Ralph Garman wearing an eye-patch) that Anal Destruction is the dirt weed they’ve renamed so the “Saturday stoners” will buy it for the exotic nomenclature.

We follow Pete on a weed run to a movie set that is, unbeknownst to him, a porn shoot where he meets Brookline Mass, the star of the adult film, played by Frankie Shaw. It’s when Brookline and Pete smoke up together that things start to feel forced and kind of awkward. The rest of the story has some surprises and by the end we almost feel sorry for Pete.

The show has some fun with the cannabis industry; I’ll give it that. Renaming low quality bud so it appears attractive: funny, but most likely not based in reality. Nipsy smokes a few joints inside the dispensary throughout the episode. We get it—he likes to smoke. The three ounces he grabs for the delivery looks more like three slightly dirty freezer bags. Even this small detail was disappointing; I guess I expected more from a fellow consumer like Smith. They toss stems out into the dumpster behind the shop; a move that nearly shut down a dispensary in Alaska in real life. And “compassionate care” means feeding nearly-expired edibles to Rolo, the person living next to the dumpster played by Mewes. It’s not totally clear if these are riffs on industry stereotypes or a surreal, alternate universe.

It is clear, though, that Smith has never worked a day in a dispensary. But if you were the guy that made Clerks and Mallrats, would you?

Similar to, though far more palatable than, the poorly written and executed Disjointed, Hollyweed isn’t a show for people who are living in the cannabis industry every day. I’m not sure it’s for people who really enjoy marijuana, either. But it’s the show Kevin Smith wanted to make, and like Yoga Hosers and Tusk, he really doesn’t care what people think. He’s just happy to have made it.

And it’s not up to studio execs to greenlight the rest of the season. If the show reaches its goal of $5.3 million on Rivit TV before August 25, we’ll get to see what the future holds for Pete and LA Confidential Caregivers. Then consumers will decide for themselves if the quality is top shelf or Anal Destruction.

Photo courtesy of Rivit TV.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Rivit TV was a crowdfunding platform. Fans do not donate money, but commit to paying a price per episode and are only charged if the series reaches its goal.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Chris Wallis is a filmmaker and content creator based in Oakland, California. Over the last six years, along with extensive work with the cannabis industry, he's helped international nonprofits, national advocacy groups and political campaigns tell their stories to hundreds of thousands of eyeballs across media. He watches a lot of TV and movies, often while consuming cannabis.

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Marijuana Activists Protest John Boehner’s SXSW Speech

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Advocates for social equity in the increasingly legal marijuana economy are protesting keynote speeches by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner and MedMen CEO Adam Bierman at South by Southwest (SXSW).

The Equity First Alliance, a group that promotes racial and social justice in the cannabis industry, said that Boehner and Bierman’s scheduled Friday appearances at the festival are a reflection of an ongoing trend where mostly white men are profiting off a market while people of color continue to disproportionately face criminalization for marijuana offenses.

Via Equity First Alliance.

Boehner has been the subject of ongoing criticism from marijuana advocates, who point out that he failed to act on cannabis reform, and opposed certain criminal justice reform legislation, during his 24 years in Congress. While he never introduced, cosponsored or voted in favor of marijuana bills in that time, he joined one of the largest cannabis firms, Acreage Holdings, as a board member last year.

In fact, Boehner consistently voted against an amendment to protect medical cannabis states from federal interference.

Bierman has been accused in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of making racist and homophobic remarks. His company, which was valued at $1.6 billion last year, was also a member of a New York-based medical marijuana industry association that advocated against allowing home cultivation in a memo submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (The company told Marijuana Moment that it supports the right to home cultivation, but did not answer questions about its involvement in drafting the document. It was later asked to leave the group over Bierman’s alleged remarks.) Acreage remains a member of the same association.

“Our protest at SXSW sends a bold message in support of cannabis equity, justice, and repair,” the Equity First Alliance’s Felicia Carbajal said in a press release. “We stand together, recognizing that by defending the most marginalized among us, we defend all of us. We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities, and we call on all defenders of human rights to join us.”

Activists held protest signs over a nearby highway and at a hotel where Boehner’s speech—which covers “the likely paths to national legalization and the challenges and opportunities America’s fastest growing industry face today”—will take place on Friday. The signs condemn “big marijuana” and call for social equity policies such as community reinvestment.

“It’s clear this market is going to expand,” Boehner told CNBC in an interview ahead of the event. “And as it does, lawmakers in Washington have to look up and realize that the federal government is way out of step. It’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”

In the press release, Equity First Alliance listed additional reasons they’re protesting as well as policies they support.

“In protest of:

—Those profiting off of cannabis without an intentional plan to repair and make whole individuals, families, and communities that have been devastated by the War on Drugs;
—Those profiting off of cannabis who once participated in prohibition;
—And those who would profit before freeing all cannabis prisoners and vacating all cannabis convictions

And calling for:

—10% of companies’ annual revenue to be reinvested in communities disproportionately harmed by the
War on Drugs;
—A new paradigm of social responsibility in the cannabis industry;
—And public policies that create an equitable, just, and reparative industry.”

“It’s hypocritical for an Austin based company like SXSW, a company imbedded in a city that preaches diversity and inclusion, to neglect the work of committing to create an inclusive space, and instead give a keynote platform to John Boehner,” Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, said. “This is disgusting.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Acreage for comment, but a representative did not respond by the time of publication.

Marijuana Companies Urged Governor To Ban Cannabis Home Cultivation, Document Shows

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Marijuana Tourism From China To Amsterdam: Study Sheds Light On Motivations

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Marijuana use in China is strictly forbidden. In fact, when Canada legalized cannabis last year, the Chinese government sternly reminded its citizens living in or visiting the country to “please avoid contact or using marijuana.”

Yet, despite their nation’s strict views on marijuana, research shows that significant numbers of Chinese tourists are heading to Amsterdam to take part in its prolific cannabis culture. A new study published in the journal Current Issues in Tourism sheds light on some of the motivations for the cross-continental cannatourism.

The punishment for drug use of any kind in China, including marijuana, is up to 15 days in detention and mandatory rehabilitation, the study’s authors write. But the Chinese government has been known to enforce harsher sentences for other cannabis-related charges. For example, Jaycee Chan, the son of actor Jackie Chan, spent six months in a Beijing jail after police discovered more than 100 grams in his apartment.

Because Chinese citizens are “widely educated to stay away from any kind of drugs,” the study states, researchers were curious to know more about who these tourists heading to the Netherlands for cannabis really were. Between February 2014 and October 2016, they randomly approached Chinese tourists in or exiting Amsterdam coffee shops where marijuana is sold over the counter and invited them to complete a confidential questionnaire. A total of 654 surveys were collected and analyzed.

About 80 percent of respondents said they’d never tried marijuana prior to their trip to Amsterdam.

Participants were divided into three segments based on their responses: cannabis enthusiasts, diversionists/recreationists (people who were seeking pleasure or a diversion from their daily lives) and people who were simply curious about cannabis culture.

Survey responses from the first and third groups “demonstrate that Chinese drug tourists desire to ‘experience all’ and seek authenticity out of their normal daily life and society during the overseas travel,” the study authors wrote.

The largest number of tourists surveyed (almost 44 percent) fell into the category of diversionist/recreationist. In other words, they used cannabis as a way to enjoy their vacation—not unlike tourists from other countries.

“They travelled and consumed cannabis mostly for the sake of experiencing/experimenting with the local cannabis culture in Amsterdam as well as relaxation, pleasure, and to escape from stressful social environments,” the authors write.

Cannabis enthusiasts were the smallest segment of the sample. In terms of demographics, almost half of the survey respondents were women. Overall, a majority of participants reported being college-educated, under 35 years old and not married.

In a recent interview, lead study author Jun Wen discussed why Chinese tourists are especially attracted to the Netherlands.

“You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China – gambling, paying for sexual services, and buying cannabis for recreational use,” he said. “So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.”

World Health Organization Recommends Reclassifying Marijuana Under International Treaties

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Congressman Talks Cannabis With ‘Captain America’

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Actor Chis Evans of “Capitan America” fame met with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on Friday, and the two discussed marijuana reform, among other issues.

The congressman, who is a long-standing champion of loosening federal cannabis laws and outlined a blueprint to federal legalization last year, said he enjoyed the conversation and that he could “do this all day” in a tweet.

The chat was “part of a project Chris is working on with several members of Congress,” a spokesperson for Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Earl spoke about issues that he cares about, and marijuana reform was one of them.”

“Chris asked for the basics on why it’s important, explaining the reasoning behind scheduling and what pros and cons of legalization were,” he said.

The details of Evans’s “project” are unclear. He’s met with several members of Congress in recent weeks, according to a number of tweets, but he’s declined to get into specifics when pressed. There’s speculation that he’s launching a political media organization, however.

In response to Blumenauer’s tweet, NORML asked: “How disappointed was the Captain to be unfrozen in modern times and see we are still locking up over 600,000 Americans for marijuana?”

Evans is the nephew of former Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), who lost his bid for re-election in last year’s midterm election.

Blumenauer filed a bill in January, appropriately numbered H.R. 420, which would regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Rappers Tell U.S. Supreme Court How The Drug War Fuels Protest Art

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rep. Early Blumenauer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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