OAKLAND — Hot on the heels of new research showing marijuana's pain- relief value and the reintroduction of a bill to legalize, regulate and tax the drug, the Bay Area this week saw the première of its first marijuana-themed television show.
"Cannabis Planet," a 30-minute weekly program, is slated for a 26-week run on KOFY-TV at midnight Fridays.
The show — focusing on the merits of the marijuana plant in medicine, industry and agriculture, and "the benefits this plant brings to planet Earth, mankind and the United States," according to a news release — is already seen in the Los Angeles and San Diego markets, and will roll out in Sacramento in March and in Colorado this spring.
Weekly topics will include cannabis news and information, profiles of medical marijuana collectives, cannabis cooking, patient testimonials, celebrity interviews, music, entertainment and more.
The co-hosts are Ngaio Bealum, publisher of West Coast Cannabis Magazine, and Los Angeles medical marijuana activist Sarah Diesel; Oakland's Ed Rosenthal, the "guru of ganja" known for his horticultural expertise in marijuana, will serve as a resident expert offering cultivation tips, while chef Michael Delao will cook up cannabis cuisine.
The show comes to the Bay Area as debate ramps up over the legalization bill by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat, and a like-minded November ballot measure put forth by Oakland marijuana activists and businessmen Richard Lee and Jeffrey Jones.
Yet "Cannabis Planet" creator and executive producer Brad Lane insisted Thursday that it's not a political show.
"Our political agenda is to legalize cannabis" for food, fuel, fiber and medicine "but we're not a political-based show, if that makes sense. We're just trying to educate and inform the masses about the merits of cannabis sativa."
He noted that the show won't depict or promote recreational use of marijuana.
"Hemp, hemp hooray — we just want to get the message out there," he said.
Lane said the producers have "remastered" the 13 original Los Angeles episodes with minor touches to make them geographically appropriate for other areas — San Diego and Bay Area backdrops, for example — and are producing a second run of 13 shows with more local content.
Lane said the Berkeley Patients Group is the flagship Bay Area sponsor, with other support from San Francisco's Ketama Collective, Richmond's Seven Stars Holistic Healing, and Berkeley-based KZee Novelty Products, maker of the "Lollipipe" edible candy smoking pipe.
"We plan on bringing in more sponsors; we've just started dipping our toe in the water in the Bay Area," he said.
Statewide sponsors include MediCann medical-marijuana-evaluation clinics, as well as Canadian hydroponics companies Advanced Nutrients and BC Northern Lights.
Assembly Bill 2254 — Ammiano's Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act — would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those younger than 21.
Its former incarnation, Assembly Bill 390, was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee — which Ammiano heads — last month, but died when the clock ran out on the last legislative session; he reintroduced it Thursday.