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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.

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Green is the new gold in History’s original series Bud Empire, premiering June 5

From a media release:

As Canada rolls towards legalizing marijuana for recreational use, HISTORY® offers an insider’s look into Canada’s estimated multi-billion dollar marijuana industry through the eyes of one grassroots trailblazer in the new original docu-series Bud Empire (7×30). Premiering Tuesday, June 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT with back-to-back new episodes, the series follows Kelowna pot pioneer Bob Kay as he navigates his medical marijuana dispensary through the burgeoning green rush. As big business and politicians threaten to make independent head shops like Bob’s history, he must find a way to weed out the competition and solidify his place in the new frontier. Produced by Canadian Screen Award winner Trish Dolman (Canada In A Day) and Executive Producer Henry Less (Chef in Your Ear), the series is narrated by actor Will Sasso (MADtv).

Holding one of the largest personal medical marijuana grow licenses in Canada, pot-repreneur Bob has made a name for himself in the Canadian cannabis scene as the owner of Be Kind, the Okanagan’s original Compassion Club. With a head for business and a passion for pot, Bob plans to grow Be Kind from a medical marijuana dispensary into a budding empire with the help of his staff and family. With ambitious plans to grow his business, Bob looks to partner with Vancouver-based marijuana maverick and renowned grower Jo Leon a joint “LP” – a federal grow license to produce an unlimited amount of weed for retail sale. Can Bob take his small-town pot shop to the next level? Or will he, and countless other marijuana entrepreneurs just like him, soon be history?

Bud Empire premieres just ahead of the Senate’s final vote on Bill C-45, currently scheduled for June 7. If approved, marijuana will become legal for retail purchase and Canada will become the first advanced industrialized nation to legalize and regulate marijuana from production to consumption. Experts currently estimate that the base retail market of recreational marijuana could reach up to $8.7 billion annually*, with $1 billion per year in tax revenue from all marijuana sales.**

The series is produced by Screen Siren Pictures Inc. and HLP + Partners in association with Corus Entertainment’s HISTORY. Executive producers on the series are Trish Dolman and Henry Less. The series is written by Peter Waal. Series Producer is Dan Jackson. Directors are Trish Dolman, Leia Hutchings and Peter Waal.

 

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