Must-See TV: ’60 Minutes’ to Highlight MMJ Debate, Colorado Medical Marijuana Industry

Medical marijuana will take center stage this Sunday, with “60 Minutes” airing a segment that explores the cannabis industry in Colorado and the legal issues surrounding MMJ.

The piece – called “Rocky Mountain High” – elevates the medical marijuana debate just two weeks before the elections, when two states (Arkansas and Massachusetts) will vote on whether to legalize MMJ. At the same time, three other states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington – will vote on measures to legalize the general use of marijuana.

This certainly isn’t the first time medical marijuana has been featured on national TV. Think CNBC’s “Marijuana Inc.” and “Marijuana USA,” the Discovery Channel’s “Weed Wars” and “American Weed” on the National Geographic Channel. And who could forget the disastrous episode of MTV’s “True Life” featuring a couple looking to ride the MMJ wave, which reinforced negative stereotypes about the industry.

But 60 Minutes is unquestionably the most influential TV news program in the US, drawing more than 12 million viewers a week. So the piece will give medical marijuana its largest national audience yet, and the segment could in fact sway some voters on cannabis issues depending on how the industry is portrayed.

Here is the official description of Rocky Mountain High: “Of all the states that have legalized the growing and selling of medical marijuana, none has more at stake than Colorado, where a thriving industry has created jobs and revenue. But as Steve Kroft reports, it’s still against federal law.”

The show will feature several of the bigger players in Colorado’s cannabis industry, including a well-known grower, an MMJ investor and a dispensary owner. Tripp Keber – the head of Denver-based Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, which makes a popular line of marijuana-infused products – also led the 60 Minutes crew on a tour of the company’s manufacturing facility and will appear in the program as well.

Dixie’s involvement is particularly interesting because the company recently launched a new line of hemp-based products nationwide that provide pain relief without the “high” involved in marijuana use. The company is becoming one of the first true national brands in the industry, though some observers say it is walking on extremely shaky legal ground in doing so. Keber will also speak at the upcoming National Marijuana Business Conference in Denver just after the elections.

Interestingly, a reporter from Newsweek also was in Colorado recently for a story on medical marijuana, which will give the industry even more exposure. If the state legalizes medical cannabis, expect many more of these types of national media pieces in the coming years.