Comedy Central’s ‘South Park’ Addresses Inequality In Colorado’s Cannabis Industry

Comedy Central’s ‘South Park’ recently skewered racial inequality in Colorado’s cannabis industry but while accurately depicting the racial imbalance among cannabis business owners, the show missed the mark on why advocates are calling for social equity.

Full story after the jump.

It’s been several years since South Park‘s Randy Marsh, the all-American dad character who fuels many of the Comedy Central show’s comically insensitive subplots, entered the weed business with the marketing-forward brand Tegridy Farms. Since then, showrunners Trey Parker and Matt Stone have skewered the cannabis industry at multiple points and during a recent episode — Episode 2 of Season 25, “The Big Fix,” which premiered February 9 — the show took direct aim at racial inequality in Colorado’s cannabis industry.

The episode opens with Randy attending the 2022 Cannabis Cultivators Expo in Denver, which is not a real event but is clearly modeled after the industry’s B2B conferences.

At a panel titled “The Changing Face of Hemp Farming,” a white speaker tells the crowd that due to growing public awareness about the industry’s racial equalities, white-owned businesses are going to face a harsh reality check to their bottom line:

“We growers must face a harsh reality. Since the legalization of marijuana, communities of color — Black and Brown Coloradans, those most affected by the racist War on Drugs — have now been locked out of the wealth creation of the industry. Luckily, the public is starting to understand this unfairness. And many people are now talking about boycotting cannabis growers who are only white-owned. We are seeing a healthy and dramatic spike in consumers who demand that their marijuana be grown by those who understand the fight for social equity. The bottom line is this: a completely white-owned weed business these days just isn’t going to survive.”

In a panic to save his profits, Randy enacts a plan for his family to get close with the Blacks — the only (and blatantly tokenized) Black family in South Park — so he can coerce Steve, the family’s patriarch, into joining Tegridy Farms as a co-owner.

During the episode, Steve quickly realizes that he’s being used so Randy can say the business is partially Black-owned, so he ultimately quits and launches his own cannabis company. The episode closes with the subplot between Randy and Steve left open-ended but it probably won’t be the last time the show visits the issue this year, considering that South Park‘s latest seasons have featured episodic plotlines.

While “The Big Fix” is not entirely accurate when it comes to the social equity issue in Colorado — characters in the show, for example, suggest that consumer boycotts are going to ruin white-owned businesses but in reality, these businesses are still winning the lion’s share of cannabis industry profits — it is at least exciting to see the issue fueling mainstream discussion.

Note: Tegridy Farms is a fictional cannabis company but the showrunners have announced plans for a real line of Tegridy-branded cannabis products in Colorado.

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