Episode 59 - Jordan Klepper, a Celebrity Who's Doing More For Cannabis Than Merely Launching Another Product

Jordan Klepper, ex Daily Show comedian has a new documentary series, Klepper, in which he immerses himself into the issues dividing the country. His episode “The New Weed War” takes on a topic that few others can.


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Like many in his generation, Jordan Klepper was indifferent to weed, both the plant and the politics. He had tried it when he was a student at Kalamazoo College but it made him paranoid so he moved on to bourbon and rye and didn’t think much about it other than it was legal in California and already felt legal in New York where he lives. But when one of his producers told him that the citizens of Compton, CA -- the city that gave the world the word “chronic” rejected two ballot initiatives allowing legal sales (and the jobs and tax revenue that come with it), he got curious and went to Compton to explore.

His first subject is Virgil, Compton resident and former inmate. Virgil launched a dispensary in 2016 thinking he was reinventing himself as an entrepreneur, but the opposition, led by local pastors, was fierce. Klepper finds one particularly eloquent pastor who explains his point of view, emphasizing his doubts that legalization will ever really help communities of color. His community has been burned before and he doesn’t trust the government to get this right either. He is not unpersuasive.

Klepper next stop is Oakland, CA to see that city’s social equity program in action. He follows a local delivery service called Community Gardens as its owners contend with the schizophrenic regulatory changes state authorities hand down. When California abruptly halves the accepted dose of THC allowed in an edible serving from 10 mgs to 5 mgs, Community Gardens was stuck with thousands of dollars of product they couldn’t sell and it’s painful to watch how a seemingly minor regulatory change can wipe out a small cannabis operator faster than a hurricane.

Jordan does a good job of bringing the issues to light, even though he’s still struggling to integrate his formerly ironic character into his new role of more thoughtful investigative journalist. (My unsolicited advice, forget the quippy attempts at irony and let your intelligent, sound-bite-free, smart self emerge).

After the podcast I asked how examining the difficulty of trying to fit the square peg of social justice into the round holes of legalization expanded his thinking about cannabis in general. “This social equity program is one way of us trying to grapple with the devastating implications of having arrested 8 million people during the Drug Wars,” he said. “It might be doing some good so we should be studying it and improving it so we can bring it to other states.” 

Klepper, the docuseries, can be seen on Comedy Central. This episode, “The New Weed War” streams on all of these channels.

PS: And don’t miss the end of this episode where Jordan tells us what surprising/creative thought occurred to him last time he imbibed. He may have been indifferent when he began this show, but he’s clearly in the fold now.

Joe Dolce