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Sneak Peek of “The Pot Barons of Colorado” Airs Tonight

A diptic of two grow operations using violet LED lights on the MSNBC's new show, "Pot Barons."


Sneak Peek of “The Pot Barons of Colorado” Airs Tonight

The spirit of innovation is a common characteristic among forward-thinking business owners looking to influence the future of their industry. When it comes to widespread, commercial success, the key is to dream big, work hard and have a timeless, useful product that the masses will buy in staggering quantities for the rest of time. Thanks to marijuana lovers with insatiable appetites for great strains and good vibes, half the work is already done for professionals looking to make a dent in the cannabis industry.

On Thanksgiving night, MSNBC will air a sneak peek of the first episode of a six-part documentary series that follows the entrepreneurial journey of six professionals in the burgeoning cannabis industry. The show is set to air for six consecutive Sundays beginning on November 30 and goes behind the doors of grow rooms, storefronts and kitchens to show audiences the process and progress of each company’s pursuit to the top of the food chain.

The series takes place in Colorado, the land of the weed and home to a multi-billion dollar industry, where the demand for weed far outweighs the supply. It approaches the cannabis industry from a number of angles, analyzing the risks and triumphs of successfully running a business that is, after all, still 100% illegal by federal standards. Walking the tightrope of lawfulness has provided its own set of obstacles from reputable, viable companies being afraid of having their businesses raided to being refused bank accounts due to the nature of their products. In short, they are legally discriminated against and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Still, there’s no need to pity them — these companies are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars (many times in just one business day), often have lines out of the door on a regular basis and have major plans for expansion over the next few months and years ahead.

Viewers have the opportunity to see a normalized portrayal of industry professionals through staff meetings, investment talks, pre-licensing hearings and important business lunches complete with bigwig cigar-smoking and a champagne toast. For the owners, it’s a race to be the biggest and best. They want dynasties where cannabis is a commodity that earns them millions, if not billions of dollars.

Although the documentary is exciting, fascinating and a direct look into the social, cultural and economic shifts that are making history right now, there are some subtly disturbing aspects. Again and again, industry professionals mention wanting to be the next Wal-Mart, Costco or Coca Cola of cannabis. While these casual comments probably allude more to their desires to garner equal amounts of cash as these corporate giants, there’s still a scary, Machiavellian undertone about seeking to emulate monopolizing brands.

Another glaring component during the first episode was the stark lack of diversity. While the narrator shares facts about Colorado’s explosive cannabis scene and how Denver alone has more dispensaries than liquor stores or schools, it’s mind-boggling that all the professionals that they have chosen to profile mostly appear to fit into a standardized mold of being wealthy, white and privileged enough to be able to afford this type of endeavor.

Although this documentary series is supposed to focus on the companies alone, it’d be to the creator’s credit to responsibly explore the overall implications of what cannabis business looks like from the inside out as well as the people who will never have the opportunity to turn their entrepreneurial skills into millions of dollars because they are in prison for essentially doing the same thing yet on a smaller scale.

How this series is received will be largely dependent on the viewer’s perspective. It feels more like a reality show than a documentary but still seems to be mostly unscripted. It’s an interesting look into a wonder-filled world of marijuana, where weed reigns king and the money will never stop flowing. It’s also a sign of what the future of cannabusiness holds — for better or for worse. Either way, it’s definitely provocative and compelling to see pounds and pounds of weed paired with wads of cash without any negative implications on a major news network.  .

While all the changes in marijuana legislation are historical and necessary, it’s definitely important to examine all the facets. Does the average person with under a million dollars stand a chance at ever having a successful cannabis business of their own? Will the profiled businesses accomplish their dreams and become the Wal-Marts and Costcos of the industry, effectively wiping out the rest of their competition’s dreams of succeeding on a commercial level? Is there room in the industry for everyone? Only time will tell.

One thing is definitely clear: if you really want a chance in the cannabis industry, it’s going to take money to make money.

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