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Budding industry

A new TV series explores the medical marijuana industry through the experiences of six Shawnee brothers.

Mia Cantu February 29th, 2012

Prescription marijuana has become a legitimate business, at least in 16 states, where it is legal. Among those reaping profits are six brothers originally from Shawnee — Joel, Jesse, Jonathan, Jordan, Jared and Josh Stanley — who now reside in Colorado, where they grow and sell their harvest of medical cannabis.

A new reality series on the National Geographic Channel, “American Weed,” focuses on medical pot in Colorado, centering on growers such as the Stanley siblings, and chronicles its eventual demise in one town in the state.

Every year, thousands of cardholding patients depend on the Stanleys for medical pot to help ease their pain.

But the fledgling industry remains controversial. “American Weed” features opponents like Scoot Crandall, who fought to rid Fort Collins, Colo., of medical marijuana by promoting Proposition 300.

The measure, which passed in November, forced the city’s cannabis dispensaries and cultivation facilities to shut down in mid-February.

right Joel and Josh Stanley inspect a new crop.

“I think that people who [supported the proposition] in Fort Collins are entirely misinformed,” said Joel Stanley, horticulture manager of the brothers’ business. “A lot of people think that if they banned medical marijuana, marijuana would just go away. But there is a black market and there always will be.”

The 32-year-old Stanley left the oil field three years ago to join his brothers in their business venture.

“There are very legitimate uses for this plant. The ones that stick out the most are for those whose conditions prevent them from being able to sleep or eat, like cancer,” he said. “I can’t count how many of the patients say, ‘Without the medical marijuana, I don’t know how I would have survived it.’” Studies have shown that cannabis can reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy, stimulate appetite and weight-gain for AIDS patients, and ease pain from diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Stanley urged everyone to become educated on the topic and the misconceptions they have about the growers involved in it.

“People think that those of us in this industry are making a lot of money. I could go back to the oil field today and make more money,” he said. “I questioned going back, but the patients fully changed my mind.”

“American Weed” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on the National Geographic Channel.

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