Cross the country to learn about the state of the cannabis industry, from grower to consumer, as only public television, including NJTV News, can report it

August 29, 2019 – NEWARK, NJ – Five stations. Five perspectives. One timely topic.  NJTV News, the news division of NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, joined forces with four other public television news programs from across the country to report on an issue getting national attention: the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use. The resulting documentary, Cannabis Country, premieres Wednesday, September 4 at 8pm on NJTV (check local listings).

“Each station focused on a different aspect of the industry,” said NJTV News Executive Producer Phil Alongi. “The result is a broad yet in-depth look at cannabis legalization, a complicated issue with which many states, including New Jersey, are grappling. Our goal with this special is to show all sides objectively with first-hand accounts of those most intimately involved with it, from grower to user.”

KPBS in San Diego examined the challenges for cannabis growers, from the financial investment to grow the crop to obtaining the state licensing and keeping the business afloat.

“It’s far more difficult to make money in cannabis than most people realize and ultimately it’s going to be just like any other business…. You have to create to a real business infrastructure,” explains one grower in the film.

WGBH in Boston digs deeper into the struggles between established medical cannabis providers and smaller entrepreneurial start-up businesses, as well as issues of quality control and price in their sanctioned products versus the black market.

Arizona PBS investigates the struggles for would-be providers to obtain financing from banks for cannabis-based businesses, and dealing with an often cash-based business once they are up and running.

“We have to pay a lot of people in cash, which can be very challenging,” says one dispensary owner in the program. “We have to have security, armed security at all times. And get cashier’s checks or money orders to pay utilities.” Another roadblock statistic cited in the special: only an estimated one in 30 banks nationwide openly accepts cannabis customers.

WTTW in Chicago weighs the controversial aspects and alleged benefits of medical marijuana, hearing from patients who swear it helps, but doctors who have yet to find proof of its remedies. “We have to have a very balanced viewpoint of what medical cannabis can do,” says one doctor in the program. “It’s not the miracle that many people will tout that it’s a cure-all, and it’s also not this evil vice that everyone should avoid. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and the truth is going to be different from person to person.”

NJTV News reports on the legislative struggles to get recreational marijuana legalized in the Garden State, including the criminal justice system implications. NJ lawmakers recently called off a vote to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana that would have also expunged the records of thousands of residents convicted of possession. At the same time, law enforcement concerns remain over how drugged driving will be detected.