Legal Pot In Trump's America is part of 'Resistance Culture,' 'Weediquette' Host Says (Exclusive)

The last time viewers saw Krishna Andavolu on Weediquette, the show host was discovering how medical marijuana was helping young adults suffering from urban PTSD in Compton, California. Before that, he took his investigative journalism to new highs by blazing up and getting behind the wheel of a car in Washington to find out exactly how dangerous being stoned on the road actually is.

During the first half of the third season of the show, Andavolu also traveled with soccer moms smuggling medical marijuana from Denver back to their non-medically-legal states in effort to treat their autistic children after prescription drugs failed. And he followed a woman fighting against mass deportations after her husband, deemed a “criminal alien,” was deported for a marijuana charge he had already served a prison sentence for.

Related: How Viceland's ‘Weediquette’ Wants To Change The Way We Think About Pot

By now, anyone who’s ever caught an episode of the Viceland series knows Andavolu has a knack for exposing the many controversies, assumptions and stigmas surrounding marijuana. But when the show returns with Season 3 in October, viewers can expect to see an even deeper depiction of how the so-called war on drugs is affecting everyday people across America, and what citizens are doing to combat it.

Simply put, Weediquette will continue to show how cannabis culture is resistance culture, according to Andavolu. In an interview with Newsweek, Andavolu said many of the stories he’s investigated for the remaining half of Season 3,  premiering on Viceland on October 17, go hand-in-hand with the grassroots resistance movement fighting against the hateful and authoritarian agenda of America’s current political leaders.

“Season 2, in a lot of ways, was about people articulating this new reality of marijuana being a legitimate thing that helps them in their lives. And then Season 3—since the assumption that [cannabis is] gonna become federally legal at some point is no longer valid—has been much more about what people are doing to fight to resist and to embody that new reality when there’s more opposition to it,” Andavolu tells Newsweek.

The trailer for the new Season 3 episodes—exclusively obtained by Newsweek—certainly hints at Americans taking more action to turn their personal marijuana reality into a national one. But they may be taking some shocking approaches to getting the job done.

Krishna Andavolu dishes on season three of Viceland's "Weediquette Vice correspondent Krishna Andavolu attends the Viceland launch party at The Angel Orensanz Foundation on February 25, 2016, in New York City. Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Check out Newsweek’s interview with Andavolu:

What can viewers expect to see when the show returns?
The first story that premieres the season is about pot and pregnancy, and pregnant women who use pot to manage symptoms like nausea or pain—basically other corporal realities of pregnancy. They find that smoking marijuana, or ingesting it, is a better alternative than some of the pharmaceuticals out there. And that’s maybe the last taboo. Visually speaking, it’s pretty shocking to see a pregnant woman smoke a bowl. But what we found through tracing the story of one such woman was that the science behind whether or not it’s that bad for the fetus, it’s unclear, and it might not be as bad as eating shellfish or other things that women are recommended not to do when they’re pregnant.

But the real issue is that when you’re policing women for risking harm to their fetus, what they’re [essentially] saying is that the person that is the fetus is somehow more important than the woman herself. The story in itself led us up to that feeling like the child walfare system is kind of like ground zero for the war on drugs. And the war on drugs can extend to the war on women in a lot of ways.

It’s another one of those places where the drug war logic, when you think about it, it’s attached to the way that people who aren’t in power or the ones who aren’t making the decisions necessarily are taken advantage of by the state or are being discriminated against. What you can find when tracing these stories of pot is that it’s not just about pot, it’s about these other identities that are important but sometimes under attack. And I think that’s why, that story to me—when you can see how the war on drugs becomes a war on women, and when you can see the logic extend in that way—the struggle for pot is not just a struggle for pot. It’s a struggle to resist against discriminatory state policies.

What was the most shocking thing you learned while filming this season?
If you’re a medical marijuana patient, in many states you can be denied an organ transplant. Even if it’s legal, you’re no longer eligible to get an organ. We did a story about that in Maine, about a man who’s seeking a kidney transplant because of a genetic disease. He was informed that he was kicked off the kidney transplant list [because he uses medical marijuana]. It’s a real issue.

It seems like a little issue, but it actually ladders up to the weird structural inequities of how organs are allocated. And, it sort of turns out, if you’re wealthy, you game the system a little better and stand a better chance of getting an organ. And the medical establishment—in cautiousness about accepting what medical marijuana is and what it means—there are places where you can see that the assumptions [surrounding medical marijuana] can mean someone dies or someone lives. That’s another interesting thing to trace: how the reality of medical marijuana is interacting with the reality of medical science as we know it. They’re of two different cultures in a lot of ways, but they live right on top of each other. Some cases and medical establishments are like, “Listen we don’t know what pot is, where you’re getting it from, what might be in it. And for people who are super immunosensitive—whether you’re a donor or recipient—if you compromise [organs by using pot] then we just can’t trust where the pot comes from.” In practice what that becomes is, “We don’t trust you because you smoke pot, and furthermore we don’t trust you with this precious organ, of which there aren’t many, because you smoke pot.” So you see the stigma sort of persists even when it’s legal.

I’d assume he was smoking medical marijuana for reasons related to his kidney disease?
He was treating his dialysis pain. He goes two, three times a week for four hours with medical marijuana, and he likes it better than some opioids he was given and other drugs.

Do you feel like there will be some time before we see things become federally legal?
What I get the sense of based on the people that I meet, the research that we do and the data on marijuana, more than ever the people of the United States want pot to be legal. But there are interests that are now running the government that thinks that [legalizing is] not a good idea. I don’t know what’s gonna happen with the next federal election or state election, but what I’ll say is that more states will legalize medical marijuana in some fashion. Whether the federal government ever does…the federal government is going to be well behind what Americans want.

You look at the polling, and it’s like 60 percent of people think pot should be legal. And so, in a sense, it’s like the vocal majority of Americans need to resist the decree of a federal government that isn’t listening to them. The reason I think pot is this important topic to talk about is because I think cannabis culture embodies resistance culture. It’s saying that the structural inequities of the past no longer should determine our future. Look at pot, and it theorizes that. That’s where you see that the war on drugs extends to the war on women, the war on drugs extends towards discriminatory policy against minorities. When you start to unpack the assumptions and the power structures of what kept pot illegal for so long, you start to see that those same assumptions and power structures are what are keeping people down on all fronts.

What are you hoping viewers take away from this season?
Direct action can change things. Marijuana’s legal because a lot of people got together and signed some petitions and got it on the ballot. They got money from places. They were able to articulate a vision of what the world that they live in looks like and then make that world exist on a governmental level. Doesn’t mean the fight is over, but it means that things can change and things do change. And that sort of resistance ideology can be applied to a number of different issues that people face. So I think that’s what gives me hope about it all.

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