Tonight, the season premiere of Weediquette airs on VICELAND at 10 PM. (Watch a trailer above.) In advance of the new season, Weediquette host Krishna Andavolu talked to us about what to expect in tonight's episode—which focuses on pot-smoking parents' battles with Child Protective Services—and the coming season. Read an edited and condensed version of his thoughts below.
We're continuing to chronicle marijuana's move from counterculture into the mainstream, a process that's happened very quickly and with a great amount of excitement. At the same time, though, a lot of people are being left behind.
Our first episode is about parents who have been accused of neglecting their children because they use pot for medical reasons in Kansas, a state where weed is still illegal. For a lot of new entrepreneurs and patients, in the back of their mind they're asking, What am I risking by integrating parenting and pot? That's a question I ask, too, because I'm a young parent—I have a 2-year-old—and I tend to have a lot of pot around me because of my job. We follow the stories of two single moms who don't come from a lot of privilege and are in the midst of having their kids removed because of their weed usage.
With parenting and pot, if you're rich, you're gonna be fine—but if you're not, you're prey to government entities that think that pot is an indicator of poor parental decisions. We lead with that story because it gets at the heart of what Weediquette can do: seeing the larger themes of American life that run through the edifice of pot legalization. I think about why I can do things that I can do and other people can't. As a father, there's nothing that's more important to me in life than my child. What is it like for other people who feel similarly?
While shooting the first season, we found that we're at a point in our culture's relationship with marijuana where it can be commensurate with family life—for a long time, weed was something that was thought to tear families apart. In the second season, we look at weed and community: people forming around their beliefs of what pot can do for them. From football players to Native American tribes, from small business owners in Michigan to people who are trying to kick opiate addiction in Maine—there are so many different pockets of communities that are trying to integrate marijuana into what they think might help them. When you see the world through their eyes, you see that pot is a metonym for other bigger factors in their lives.
Another episode later in the season focuses on how Michigan police use licensed and legal medical-marijuana grows as easy pickings to do raids on. Under the doctrine of civil asset forfeiture, they're able to seize, sell, and fund their police departments from these raids. It's a weird situation, where pot's legal and everyone knows about it but the cops, and it's also another bump in this road to legalization, where the culture of policing—which has been so shaped by the moneyed incentive of the war on drugs—continues despite the fact that weed is actually legal in Michigan. Through stories like these, pot becomes the prism through which we can unpack existential points of conflict that this country still struggles with.
In the episode about opiate addiction, we went to an uncredited backwoods detox facility in rural Maine where former opiate addicts were treating current opiate addicts by giving them massive amounts of THC, so they could get through the effects of withdrawal and form a new identity toward treating their pain. A man I met along that way got into an accident, hurt his back, and went to the doctor. The doctor prescribed Oxycontin, and the man became addicted; the doctor kept upping the dosage, and at some point, the doctor labeled him an addict. The man could no longer get the opiates through prescription, so he went to the street and eventually started doing heroin. It's a perfect example of how the institution of pain management in the medical system has failed a gigantic amount of the population in this country, and how that has reached epidemic levels at this point. It affects the life expectancy of white males in the US, which hasn't gone down since World War II—but now it has because of the opiate crisis.
As much as medical marijuana is taken seriously, it's still treated as a joke—like, "This is an excuse to get high." But interactions like these provide moments where you see how medical marijuana factors into a profound sense of distrust in this country's institutions. How do you pick up the pieces and move on? What's the next step? It's surprisingly profound stuff, and we scratch the surface of people's motivations, and they lay themselves bare. We're forced to confront with how we treat people.