Preview: History’s doc series Bud Empire rolls up on pot sales as Canada heads toward legalization

I don’t—and have never—smoked marijuana. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who did and when it was offered I declined. As a result, I don’t have any skin in the game as Canada inches closer to the legalization—voting on Bill C-45 is scheduled for June —of recreational marijuana in this country. But tuning in to History’s latest original series, Bud Empire certainly educated me in the drug and what being able to sell it as an entrepreneur.

Debuting Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the specialty network, the seven-part Bud Empire—narrated by Will Sasso—introduces viewers to Bob Kay, the owner of Be Kind, the Okanagan’s original Compassion Club. Episode 1, with its guitar-driven soundtrack, introduces Kay as he reveals B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is dotted with pot grow-ops mixed in with other crops. It’s a $5 billion industry and Kay aims to be “the King of Weed.” That title comes with challenges in the form of robbery, extortion, violence and Kay potentially being arrested for selling.

But Bud Empire isn’t about the furtive exchange of money for pot in a shadowy alley or groups of stoners lounging in a room filled with smoke; the program explores not only Kay’s family life (including his creatively-named kids) but how he’s running and, hopefully, expanding his business. This could be a series about any entrepreneur wanting to sell a product; the hook is that Kay sells marijuana. Kay welcomes salespeople into Be Kind, analyzing and sampling their weed and deeming if it’s up to his high standards and worthy of being in his store. Watching bunches of twenties exchange hands over bags of pot is certainly something to see.

Kay works a grey area of the law but he believes what he and others are doing is really helping; medical marijuana helps alleviate chronic pain and other ailments. Still, rules in Kelowna, B.C., could put him out of business and in jail.

Produced by Screen Siren Pictures Inc. and HLP + Partners, Trish Dolman (Canada in a Day)—Bud Empire‘s executive producer and director—offers a wonderful, educational and heartfelt peek into the life of man eking out a business in a rapidly-changing landscape.

Bud Empire airs back-to-back episodes on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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