Makers Of Natl. Geographic Marijuana Special Misled Participant

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Photo: National Geographic Channel
Michael Hayne in the National Georgraphic documentary “High On Marijuana”: “I was manipulated and given false assurances. If only I could sue the bastards.”

​One interviewee featured in the current National Geographic pot documentary, “High On Marijuana,” has told Toke of the Town he was “manipulated and given false assurances” that the show — widely criticized in the cannabis community for its alarmist portrayal of the herb — would be an impartial look at cannabis.

I mean, come on. How are we supposed to take a supposedly “scientific” show seriously when it describes the onset of marijuana’s effects as like “terrorists taking over the brain”?

As Toke of the Town pointed out before the show aired, the fact that the show features testimony from those who have, to quote Nat Geo, “been addicted,” was something of a red flag to those of us who were expecting an impartial viewpoint. Still, it came as a disappointment that the show turned out to be a “breathless piece of anti-pot hogwash,” as we had predicted.


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Photo: Michael Hayne
Michael Hayne: “The fucking marketing geniuses over at Nat Geo cleverly edited my shoot to make me look like an irresponsible stoner”

​”I was first contacted by a rep from Pioneer Productions regarding making an appearance on National Geographic which was to show myself smoking, having me explain the effects it has on my comedic creativity and medical relief, and that all this would be properly explained and substantiated by expert testimony,” Michael Hayne, a stand-up comedian who is featured in the documentary as a marijuana user, told us.
“They even shot myself doing a little stand-up on the ridiculousness of our social attitudes towards pot and the inanity of the federal War On Drugs,” he said. “I frequently made mention of my official diagnosed disorder several times during the shoot and yet it did not show up in the piece.”
“Instead, the fucking marketing geniuses over at Nat Geo cleverly edited my shoot to make me look like an irresponsible stoner who is going to die,” Hayne told us. “I was told that this was going to be a ‘positive’ piece on marijuana and ‘value-neutral.’ “
“It was neither ‘positive’ nor ‘value-neutral,’ ” Hayne said. “This really confounded me since Nat Geo has presented previous specials on marijuana in a fair and impartial manner. Who knows, maybe the good people at Merck and Eli Lilly threw buckets of cash at them.”
Many in the cannabis community are joining Hayne in that suspicion. According to one observer of the scene, “National Geographic probably got grants from either a private entity who favors the status quo (i.e., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Johnson & Johnson fame), or governmental (NIDA, NIH, SAMHSA, ONDCP, etc.) to produce this expensive series on ‘drugs.’ “

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Photo: Michael Hayne
Stand-up comic Michael Hayne plying his trade onstage at Don’t Tell Mama’s in New York City.

​”I only agreed to do this under the promise it would be a positive piece,” Hayne said. “I was quite disappointed that Nat Geo excluded my stand-up bits of myself pontificating humorously and thoughtfully on marijuana.”
While many in the community had high hopes for the impartiality of the docu before seeing it, most had their hopes dashed upon seeing the final product, and that includes Hayne himself.
“I was told that this wouldn’t be so much a pro-legalization political piece but rather a candid look at how marijuana can be used effectively,” Hayne told us. “In my case, spawn my creative, comedic juices and quell my GAD [generalized anxiety disorder].”
“Both verbally and contractually the title for this piece was called ‘The Science of Cannabis,’ which I guess was just a working title for the production company to pitch to the networks,” Hayne said. (As noted above, the final title for the show, part of the “Drugged” series, was “High On Marijuana.”)
“I just nearly shit my heart when a few buddies of mine said they saw a commercial of me that showed me hitting the bowl and looking like your typical stupid stoner,” Hayne said. “What’s more, the show was simply called ‘Drugged: High On Marijuana, and not “The Science of Cannabis.’ “
“Naturally this worried me since I try my hardest to present marijuana in a serious and positive vein,” Hayne told Toke of the Town.
According to Hayne, one of the most glaring instances of fear-mongering misinformation in the show was the very misleading implication that the phenomenon of marijuana users fainting due to a drop in blood pressure is commonplace.
“When individuals feel faint from cannabis use it is most often because of too much hyperventilation, not cannabis smoke per se,” Hayne pointed out.
“What fascinated me was how utterly brief it was and how specific the agenda was, and it sort of neglected some key points such as: ‘Pot does NOT lead to a physical addiction,’ ” Hayne said. 
“So I guess I was manipulated and given false assurances,” Hayne told us. “If only I could sue the bastards.”
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