The first episode of ‘Weed Country’ on the Discovery Channel was mostly a disappointment. There were basically four characters – a grower and his wife who go on ‘drug runs’ as the show puts it, the Jackson County Sheriff from Oregon (the WORST representation of anything that ‘happens’ in Oregon), one compassionate medical marijuana patient/grower who tries to actually help people (which is why I said ‘mostly a disappointment earlier because he was cool), and a disgraced medical marijuana dispensary owner from Vallejo named Matt Shotwell.
I don’t know Matt Shotwell, and I tried as hard as I could to withhold judgement against him, but by the end of the show I was pretty upset with the way he went about things. ‘Weed Country’ clips and narrations explained that he was the first medical marijuana dispensary owner in Vallejo, California, and that at the pinnacle of his operation he was the most popular medical marijuana dispensary in the area. I got the impression that he had been operating for quite sometime, and he talked quite a bit about how much money he was making during that time.
What I never, ever heard Matt Shotwell discuss was the fact that he was providing safe access to medicine that suffering patients desperately needed. Instead Matt Shotwell went on and on about how much money he was losing by not having stuff on his shelves, and how there was a vacuum created in Vallejo after the crackdowns that created a potentially very profitable situation. I see this too often with dispensary owners, who are extremely greedy, only care about lining their pockets, and forget about the patients. That’s not to say that all dispensary owners are that way, because I know many compassionate ones, but Matt Shotwell showed a level of greed that is inexcusable. Operating a medical marijuana dispensary should involve compassion, not just dollars.
Maybe if Matt Shotwell had given back to the movement that created the opportunity for him in the first place, he wouldn’t have felt so much despair as it seemed no one was there to protest, no one was there to help pick up the pieces, no one was there to write LTE’s to local media, etc. At one point in the first episode, Matt Shotwell needed a ‘marijuana expert’ to testify for him in court. Had he been active with Americans for Safe Access, NORML, Marijuana Policy Project, etc, he would have realized that getting an expert would have been easy. However, there he was, performing search engine queries on the internet with his girlfriend looking for a ‘marijuana expert.’ The oldest owner of a safe access point in a major city in California should never, ever get to that point unless they had fully forgotten to give back to the movement that created the opportunity for the dispensary owner in the first place.
I hate prohibition, and I hate the federal government’s crackdown on safe access in California. Untold numbers of patients were affected by their actions. However, medical marijuana dispensary owners that don’t give back to the movement, and are only in it for the dollars, don’t do anything to help the cause and indirectly help keep prohibition in place, and ensure further crackdowns by the feds. Let it be a lesson to all other medical marijuana dispensary/collective/club owners across the nation! I didn’t watch the second episode because I didn’t see the point, but below are a couple of clips in case others want to see what I’m talking about.