Marijuana Meets Workplace Comedy – East Coast Grow Series
East Coast Grow, a web-based comedy series set in a Washington, D.C. dispensary, began filming in November and is expected to hit the small screen by summer, perhaps even in time for 4/20 celebrations, according to DC-based Aboveboard Productions.
The darkly funny storyline follows the lives of:
- Aldo, the owner of the fictional dispensary, played by Greg Crowe;
- Cody, the wide-eyed innocent and newest employee, played by Joe McCaughtry;
- Darrin, who cares deeply about changing policy, played by David Johnson;
- Mike, who struggles to find his way in a newly legal industry but is burdened by old criminal convictions, as played by Theo Copeland ; and
- Tia, who left her job in the corporate world to manage the dispensary and whose passion for social justice is fueled by the plight of her brother who is incarcerated for marijuana trafficking, played by Devin Nikki Thomas.
The series begins in the year before the passage of Initiative 71, which legalized recreational growing and use but not sales in DC. Will Aldo have the product he needs to stay open? Will Darrin burn out and is Cody just too green for his own good? Will Mike ever been able to find work in the industry he helped to build before legalization and can Tia keep it all together?
Making Fun of DC and Pot Policy
What’s so funny? DC is the land of serious and striving young professionals and perpetually in need of a reason to laugh at itself. As some sage once put it, the town is one drink short of tolerable. Swap out the substance and you’ve got the picture.
Nonetheless, this is marijuana, so it is impossible to avoid a hefty dollop of social awareness. Today, the city exists in a strange netherworld where medical use is permitted, but only five dispensaries exist and shortages are common.
Private recreational growing and use are also legal, but sales are not. Termed the “give and grow” economy, it has difficulty attracting the investment necessary for growth, and it hardly encourages the development of a tax and regulatory structure that could benefit DC residents.
And then there is Congress, which has the last say on DC budget matters, despite the fact that many lawmakers express open disregard for the wishes of DC voters. The show does its best to walk the tightrope of human comedy above a sea of ponderous politics. Expect some playful pokes in the direction of the nation’s movers and shakers.
Co-creators, Matt Doherty and Amy Tasillo, are a remarkably tolerable DC power couple. Matt, the Executive Producer, has more than a decade of experience in cannabis cultivation and consulting. Amy, as writer and director, brings the film and media chops. As Amy says,
We are excited to bring this project to DC, a place known more for politics than plants. Watching people try to navigate the nuanced laws about possession and cultivation has been borderline comedic, and we decided to create this show to pick up on the sometimes amusing conflicts and confusion between federal and local laws in DC.
What’s next for East Coast Grow?
The series continues filming in space provided by the Mess Hall Culinary Incubator, where the cast and crew have created a mock cannabis cultivation center. Doherty and Tasillo have spent $20,000 of their own money to make the show. Help from D.C’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development has not been forthcoming, and it will not allow its logo to be included in the show’s credits. The creators hope the series will be picked up by a major distributor but, if not, it will appear on the group’s website.
Matt sums it up:
East Coast Grow is an incredible opportunity to look at the social and political issues driving the new marijuana laws in DC. It’s a chance for us to use fictional story lines to share the very real experiences of members of the DC cannabis community and the challenges and opportunities they face daily.
Check out a trailer for the show below!