High Maintenance, HBO this September. Courtesy of imdb.com

Show Me the Green


If you are canna-curious, you may want to rev up the remote control (or zoom in to your iPhone from a cozy perch). The ever-expanding cannabis, hemp, and marijuana scenes have rich cultures and characters. A host of new streaming and television shows give viewers insidery scenes complete with dealers, budtenders, dispensary owners, and potential “MJ millionaires” looking to cash in on all that green.

While the shows are entertainment — iffy on the truthfulness spectrum — potential legislation in the pipeline stacks the odds that such business opportunities and speculation will only continue to grow in real life because there is a lot of money in the plants.

Netflix and HBO both ordered new series depicting the sales and mishaps of dispensaries and dealers, and The MJ Show will have more wannabe MJ millionaires hoping to invest and profit in cannabis, hemp, and CBD.

Also, Margaret Cho will helm Amazon’s Highland dramedy series. Cho’s character has potential trouble after having to move in with dysfunctional relatives who run a dispensary; it only adds to the fun to learn that Cho’s character is just back from a court-ordered rehab, which may beg the question of whether newly sober folks should be around any gateway drugs.

Another scripted show is Buds over at NBC, with Adam Scott (Parks & Rec) and his producer wife Naomi as well as writer Joe Mande (Parks & Rec and Delocated) digging into to the ripeness of a dispensary based in Denver.

In July, Netflix ordered 20 episodes of the scripted multi-camera comedy Disjointed, which is set in Los Angeles and starring Oscar and Emmy Award-winner Kathy Bates as Ruth. Her character has been working for years to legalize marijuana and decides to dive in and open her own dispensary; hiring her 20-year old son as well as budtenders played by Dougie Baldwin (Nowhere Boys) and Jessica Lu (Awkward and About Last Night) along with a “deeply troubled” security guard with a military history with Tone Bell (Bad Judge) rounds out the multicultural cast. Ruth’s staff show up high on the job consistently, which ripens the potential for hijinks. Super producer Chuck Lorre (Mike & Molly, Mom, Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men) co-wrote the series with David Javerbaum (Daily Show) and this is a work reunion for Bates and Lorre. The series originated with Warner Bros. TV and its sale was a hot item in the news earlier this year.

Come September, six new episodes of High Maintenance will move to HBO. The series depicts Ben Sinclair (Sisters and Safe) playing a character called The Guy on his marijuana deliveries and first debuted via short vignettes (way less than the traditional 30-minutes) on Vimeo in 2012. The Guy is the one drug connection for various New Yorkers based in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including a young couple with a small child and a friendly female neighbor who asks to buy after noticing a telltale smell in the building.

Sinclair acts in the series and is also the co-creator. Other cast members from the Vimeo series included Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Hannibal Buress (Neighbors, The Secret Life of Pets), Max Jenkins (The Mysteries of Laura) and Helene Yorke (Masters of Sex, The Night Before), Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Michael Cyril Creighton (Two Broke Girls & Spotlight).

The MJ Show sizzle reel is markedly different because it is a reality show available on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes about ganjapreneurs — they’re the folks trying to make money (preferably millions) off ganja — $20 million is supposedly on the line for the new season.

Market Watch dubbed The MJ Show a “Smoked Shark Tank” which is a relevant clue of the vibe. One wonders if there are really that many chances to make any sort of money legally now although projections on the site say the industry is “expected to grow to $17.5 billion in 2020.” The show’s site has a sign up for free investment and pitching tips, which adds to the huckster-y vibe.

On the other hand, the creators of the show, Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins, along with a small handful of other investors, have reportedly bankrolled $13 million (or $18 million, depending on the source) for contestants for the first two seasons and have a background in Broadway, film and finance. The two are married and decided to go for the green economy when Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012; the show is filmed in Denver.

Robbins helped invent the Tingler head massager, which is a time-tested gag gift for any Elephant sale, so her elevator pitch must be total perfection at this stage. The duo offer funds as well as advice and help to the winning entrepreneurs, who make CBD-spiked dog bones, edibles, and other marijuana-infused products. Past episodes have included ideas for a cannabis car (yes it’s made of cannabis), CBD-rich oil, as well as folks who have opened clinics and dispensaries in the U.S.