The CNN reality docuseries “High Profits” opens with a scene on the eve of January 1, 2014 in Breckinridge, Colorado just moments before recreational cannabis is set to go legal across the centennial state. It’s a momentous event as droves of patrons line up early at dispensary doors awaiting their turn to be a part of history and freely purchase cannabis.
A main focus of this very entertaining reality TV show is the contentious Breckenridge Cannabis Club (BCC) and proprietors Brian Rogers and Caitlin McGuire, who find that the road to founding a marijuana empire is lined with more than a few unforeseen potholes. Their storefront, a pretty yellow building perched right on the town’s quaint little Main Street, is a lightning rod of controversy from the start. What begins as a party for BCC with fat stacks of cash rolling in is short lived and soon degrades into a nightmare hangover. Rogers and McGuire are faced with battling a grumpy town council dead set against seeing their cute little ski hamlet reduced to a Sodom and Gomorrah of pothead ne’er–do–wells.
The town itself is as much an intriguing character in this eight-episode reality series as are the owners and employees of BCC, with the town of Breckenridge split right down the middle on whether or not zoning should be approved to allow cannabis sales at the center of the idyllic tourist destination. Council members – some of whom clearly have financial interests in keeping the status quo – argue that marijuana legalization will undoubtedly bring with it hordes of unwashed individuals, unintended consequences and provide very little upside to the community. They’re proven wrong, as reality shows that most of the patrons who enter BCC are regular folks looking to purchase cannabis and be on their way like any typical consumer.
By the time the show begins filming, zoning changes have already relegated the other pot stores in Breckinridge to being corralled into an area called Airport Road miles outside of the town proper. Being one of the first dispensaries to hang out a medical marijuana shingle in the downtown area and stick it out, BCC gets grandfathered into being legal on Main Street – but there’s an expiration date looming over them. Tension exists between the Airport Road dispensaries and BCC, with an uneven amount of sales being made by the latter due to their prime real estate, essentially providing them a monopoly.
Rogers, an interesting individual who is foremost a businessman with his eyes on the prize and seeking total domination of the cannabis market in Breckinridge, makes little effort to work with the other dispensaries for a fair shot at changing downtown zoning laws. His hubris ultimately leads to the decision about Main Street zoning going to a town vote. It’s a big risk, as the town’s conservative leaning populace is better organized than the fractured pro-cannabis crowd.
Maguire’s character arc is interesting, too, as she is tasked with most of the day-to-day operations of the dispensary, as well as keeping the wheels from falling off the venture as Rogers (who incidentally is her boyfriend) tends to growing their business and staving off town council threats of closure. Another strong figure is town councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence, who unwaveringly votes pro-cannabis though fellow council members make her life difficult. One of the more noble gestures in the whole series is that Lawrence, a mother, is much more interested in the civil liberty issues surrounding legalization rather than getting high herself.
There are some real gem moments captured by CNN, too, like BCC employees constructing the “Octo-dab,” a five-gallon water jug surrounded by a concentrate contingent of eight people pulling on hookah tubes like the woodwind section of an orchestra. It’s very likely the first time that middle America has witnessed a scene like that on primetime TV.
All in all, “High Profits” is recommended viewing made truly pertinent by the fact that a majority of the U.S. currently believes that cannabis should be legal. The show is a compelling human drama and relevant case study in one and effectively demystifies the cannabis industry showing it for what it is — the sale of a regular old commodity that consumers love to consume.
For more from “High Profits,” click here.
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