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'Weed Country' on Discovery review: Drug drama

Matt Shotwell inspects BE Smith's plants in Discovery

Matt Shotwell inspects BE Smith's plants in Discovery Channel's " Weed Country" Credit: Discovery Channel

DOCUSERIES "Weed Country"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday night at 10 on Discovery

REASON TO WATCH "Moonshiners" is already a Discovery hit. Why not distill drama from drugs?

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Forget Harold and Kumar, much less Cheech and Chong. Marijuana is no laughing matter. Not for the folks of "Weed Country."

In Northern California's "emerald triangle," it's serious business. And a medical mission. And, yes, an ego thing, when it comes to the guys who grow it, the guys who sell it and the guys who want to stop them both. They're all in the mix of this six-part series, which warns its "subject matter may be disturbing to some viewers."

Exactly what's "disturbing" is open for debate. Is it Mike, the farmer who has father and brother cops, yet hoists "the flag of civil disobedience" -- perhaps because just one delivery run nets him $9,000? Or is it Nate, the "biology geek," who's convinced that "medical cannabis is capable of sending cancerous tumors into remission"? Maybe Matt, whose Vallejo medical marijuana dispensary has been shut down, leaving him looking at eight years in jail -- and vowing to "repair my name and my reputation"?

Or is it the lawmen with whom we alternately spend time? The sergeant who thinks medical marijuana is a scam. Or the sheriff proclaiming, "Drugs are gonna be the downfall of this country, and I'm gonna stop it."

MY SAY The premiere hour balances perspectives pretty well -- no loopy hippies, no redneck cops, no (apparently) cutthroat gangsters. Just everybody doing what he thinks is right. "Weed Country" delivers the nuts and bolts, too, of the pot game's relevant law, history, science and cash.

It's better at that than melodrama. Despite the effectiveness of Jack Conley's tense narration and a solid underscore, the first show plays a little loose with its editing, teasing confrontations that never come. There's plenty of richness in what's already here -- a 10-year-old epileptic whose mom wants him on weed, a former narcotics cop now with medical need. But this ain't PBS, so pump it up they do.

BOTTOM LINE Intriguing stuff. As the narration not so inflatedly states, "This is the story of America at war with itself."


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