NBC to Develop Workplace Comedy Set in Marijuana Dispensary

Actor Adam Scott, star of the current box office hit “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” and the recently completed NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” has entered into a deal with NBC to develop “Buds,” a workplace comedy set in a Denver-based marijuana dispensary. Scott is developing the show with his wife, Naomi, through their company Gettin’ Rad Productions, and will be joined by “Parks and Rec” writer and Twitter personality Joe Mande.

While a television comedy centered on the marijuana business is not a new idea—Showtime’s popular series “Weeds” ran for eight seasons, and the web series “High Maintenance” for five thus far—Scott’s new series is notable for being the first to focus on the legal distribution of marijuana, as well as the first to appear on a mainstream, broadcast television station.

The series is set to join NBC’s 2015-2016 development cycle, which means it is early to speculate about content, but its existence could represent significant cultural developments for investors. If the show skews more “Cheers” than “Half Baked”—which is to say, less goofy stoner humor and more character-based comedy in a specific setting—the show could go a long way towards dispelling the common consumer’s notion of dispensaries as being somehow unsavory.

The workplace comedy has been a staple of television sitcoms since their inception, and seeing one set in the marijuana industry, as well as on NBC, which means the show will be available to an enormous national audience, not just cable subscribers like “Weeds” was, could potentially soften arguments against legalization in states that as of yet have not successfully introduced new legislation.

Also noteworthy—legend has it that the owners of The Bull and Finch, the Boston bar that served as the basis for “Cheers,” made millions once their bar became a popular tourist attraction for fans of the show.

While it is possible that the show could end up opting for worst-case-scenario jokes about munchies and red-rimmed eyes, or fall into the same trap as “Weeds,” which seemed to alternate season to season on whether is was a crime caper, an economic satire, or a bawdy comedy, it is entirely possible that the show will in fact treat the over-the-counter sale of marijuana as a normal transaction between consenting professionals.

Marijuana is much less niche now than it was in 1998, when movies like “Half Baked” had no choice but to appeal to a cult audience. Then, it would have been unimaginable for a mainstream broadcast network to consider airing a marijuana comedy, and it’s noteworthy that most of the news surrounding the announcement of this show has focused more on it being Adam Scott’s new project than some kind of daring or edgy programming choice.

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