Do you watch reality television? If you’re anything like the millions of Americans who regularly tune in, you don’t just watch it–you love it. And while today’s reality shows “teach” us about things like running a cake decorating business, the tattoo industry, and how to whore your kids out for fame and money raise eight kids at once, there are occasionally some worthwhile gems in the compost pile.

Steve DeAngelo, activist.

Discovery Channel’s upcoming series Weed Wars might be one of those gems. This fall, the network that brings us shows like MythBusters and Man vs. Wild will be following the daily operations of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA. The dispensary is run by Steve DeAngelo, a prominent and respectable medical marijuana activist. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at NORML’s conference back in April–he’s a pretty cool guy. Ideally, the show will offer him a new and larger platform for his activism.

Ideally. Of course, given the track record of Discovery’s “reality” shows, Weed Wars will focus on trite bullshit like interpersonal drama and cleverly-edited sequences to build mostly-nonexistent narratives. (Just like reality shows on any other channel.) But this time it’s edgy, because it’s set in a care center weed shop. Great: let’s exploit a serious issue for ratings purposes. (I’m not surprised, either.)

At least it’s a chance to open lines of discussion. There’s nothing wrong with shedding a bit more light on the issue, even if its controversy is the major selling point here. Giving people an inside look into how care centers actually operate might change a few minds. Might.

And then there’s this asshole. Wesley J. Smith calls DeAngelo a drug dealer, passing his business off as a front to sell illegal drugs to people who don’t need them–and sure, some people who have medical marijuana licenses don’t need them, but that’s a flaw in the system. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. This is a direct quote from Smith’s post:

“I hope the Feds arrest DeAngelo.  Once the show airs, U.S. Attorneys will have all the evidence they need.  I just wish that the Discovery Channel could be charged as an accessory.”

Wow. That’s some serious hatred going on there. Someone needs to roll this guy a joint.

Sadly, public outcry will mirror this sentiment when the show finally airs. Even pro-cannabis folks are expressing concern that the show shouldn’t be aired because it will endanger DeAngelo’s business as well as the patients he serves. And that’s a legitimate concern, to be sure.

But it’s not my biggest worry. No, I’m more concerned that Weed Wars will hurt the pro-cannabis movement more than it will help us. Most people, like Wesley J. Smith, will see it as an attempt to further glamorize marijuana use. The show will likely also treat running a cannabusiness in a lighthearted manner. Sure, there’s the ever-present fear that you’ll walk into work to find the DEA barring your doors. But, hey, you’re selling weed! Bahahaha–cue Bob Marley song and bong rip sound effects.

I can only hope DeAngelo and his shop will come across in a positive light after producers have edited him into something different. With a name like Weed Wars, though, the show doesn’t sound too promising. Call me a pessimist (or a typical stoner,) but I don’t trust mainstream media. And this quote from Discovery Channel executive VP Nancy Daniels doesn’t calm my nerves, either:

“Weed Wars fearlessly pulls back the curtain on a once illegal and still controversial world… Like Gold Rush or Deadliest Catch, these are guys pursuing their own version of the American Dream.”

Somebody pass me a pipe; I feel sick.