‘The Pot Republic’ Premieres on ‘Frontline,’ 26 July

The legalization of medical marijuana in California has led to a Green Rush, or, as attorney Bill Panzer puts it, a “wild, wild west.” As revealed in Frontline: The Pot Republic, premiering 26 July on PBS, an expansion in production, in Oakland specifically, led to political and legal controversies. Reported by KQED’s Michael Montgomery, the show tracks the ways that Prop 215 has been used as a cover for non-medical use growers and dealers, who regularly ship product out of state. As sheriffs and other local authorities try to keep track of who’s growing what, they’re typically frustrated by legal “grey areas.” The program follows enforcement officers who seek to stop Mexican growers who are not working for cartel bosses per se, but come to California and then leave on a seasonal schedule. In Mendocino County, Sheriff Tom Allman has been trying to differentiate between growers who have been “tagged,” or have proper paperwork, and those who are skirting laws to make major profits. “We’re not a bunch of Cheech and Chong law enforcement officers that are encouraging people to grow marijuana,” Allman insists. And yet, he knows his enforcement of local laws may also come under scrutiny by federal agents. “If they can give me a rational alternative, I’ll be their best friend. But there’s not,” says Allman. “The voters have approved medical marijuana. I haven’t seen it going the other way by the voters.” And so he waits for the laws to become coherent. As this report suggests, he may be waiting for some time.

RATING 6 / 10