High Ratings

CNN capitalizes on 4/20 with copious cannabis coverage


It appears that CNN, “The Most Trusted Name in News,” may have gotten a contact high. On April 19—a.k.a. 4/20 Eve—the network premiered two new specials about cannabis: Sanjay Gupta’s Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution and High Profits, a miniseries about a pot shop in Breckenridge, Colorado. Naturally, both shows ended up snagging the #1 slot in cable-news viewership that night. And though I was too busy onstage at our US Cannabis Cup awards in Denver to watch them, I was able to attend two exclusive events back in New York a few weeks earlier that offered me a sneak preview of each.

The first was a speaking engagement at the 92nd Street Y entitled “Mind, Medicine and Media,” featuring Dr. Gupta and one of his Weed 3 interviewees, psychopharmacologist Dr. Julie Holland. If her name doesn’t sound familiar, it should: Dr. Holland is the author of several books, including Ecstasy: The Complete Guide and The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis. She was also featured in the documentary Botany of Desire (based on Michael Pollan’s book of the same name) and is an adviser to two studies exploring the efficacy of cannabis and MDMA in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. So it came as no surprise that the benefits of medical marijuana—particularly in relation to PTSD—were the prevalent topic of discussion that evening.

They touched on its multitude of medicinal applications—not just for severe conditions, but also in daily use as a preventative to reduce stress and inflammation (both of which Dr. Holland believes play a huge role in many chronic ailments). They also lamented the continued obstruction of cannabis research in the U.S. and the disastrous effects of over-prescribed and mis-prescribed pharmaceuticals—specifically, anti-psychotics, antidepressants and opioid pain meds—not just on our veterans, but on the population at large. Overall, it was an informative and sobering discussion—thankfully tempered with the pair’s characteristic humor, charm and hope.

The second event was an advance screening of the High Profits pilot at Tribeca Cinemas. Unlike most of the cannabusiness reality shows of the past few years (i.e. MSNBC’s Pot Barons of Colorado), I was glad to see that this show focused not on venture-capital opportunists getting into the ganja game for a fast buck, but an average stoner couple following their dreams. I was also happy to see our editor-in-chief, Dan Skye—who was in Colorado covering the state’s first legal pot sales when the show was taped—featured prominently (and favorably) in the show.

After the screening, attendees were invited to the adjoining Varick Room, where we were treated to an open bar and free food that included a stoner-snack station. In between my martinis and munchies, I got to meet the show’s stars: Brian Rogers and Caitlin McGuire, owners of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club. We talked about the ever-evolving legalization landscape and the major media’s take on it all. The couple were also in Denver the following week to host another screening at our US Cup—this one mere hours before its CNN debut.

As marijuana continues its merry march into the mainstream, we’ll be seeing more and more pot-positive programming on TV. (In fact, NBC is rumored to be developing a sitcom about a pair of budtenders in Denver called Buds). Make no mistake, my friends—the revolution shall indeed be televised—and the ratings will be as high as we are.

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