NZ Herald: We're about to get the first season of Weediquette on screens here, but you're already planning and filming a second season. How has the response to the show been?
Krishna Andavolu: It's been really positive, from both the invested medical marijuana community and pot advocates, as well as the general public. Our story-telling strategy is about really broad human interest themes, so pot becomes this vehicle to take viewers on those journeys. The change from an illegal subculture to a mainstream culture isn't a Cheech and Chong fun-guy story. It's affecting people's lives in a really significant way. That tonality emerged from the source material. What we were seeing in people's lives was something that was much deeper than people might expect from weed. That's an intriguing phenomenon.
So this didn't start out as a show that gives you a legitimate excuse to sample weed for a living?
I'm not even that big of a stoner. Of course I like smoking weed and it's something that's been part of my life ... As a journalist you want to cover something that's happening. It's very clear in the United States that marijuana and legalisation is a large topic, and that topic has a lot of discreet and really intriguing stories to follow, both in the medical space, in the political science and criminal justice space, and in the economic space. The show always had that in mind.
America's seen as quite a tense, strict place to live - but it's now quite liberal when it comes to marijuana. Why?
It's a phenomenon that's happened over the last five years. It's gone from 40 per cent approval to 60 per cent approval. It's quite a quick change. Weed has transcended the normal categories of social policy. It doesn't hue left or right, or Democrat or Republican, or red state or blue state. It's much more of a demographic issue. Older people tend to not be in favour of pot, and younger people tend to be in favour of it, partly because of life experience. It's much more accepted culturally now, so young people are like, 'Well, whatever, it's legal now, it's fine'. It's a snowball effect.
Are people more open now to outing themselves on camera about their marijuana usage? Is that an issue?
We started making this in 2015, and when people started showing their faces and saying 'I do this', it was a radical political act. It's a little less so now as it's a more accepted industry. Even if you're making marijuana oil for children, you're not quite as afraid by putting yourself out on camera that you're going to get chased by the FBI. A lot of people are doing it now. It's a safety in numbers kind of thing.
What about you though - you're fronting a show about weed. Do you have problems at airports?
I'm brown and have a beard so I have problems at airports all the time.
Does it ever come up though?
Not really. One time at St Louis one of the employees recognised me and was like, 'Hey man - do you have any weed?' No! Are you kidding me? People are super nice. What's cool about the show is that people feel like I'm approachable, or they know me. It's a different kind of engagement with people on TV than I'm used to seeing.
How much of the show entails you getting out and sampling different products.
Anytime I smoke weed on the show it's motivated by the question I'm trying to answer. If I'm trying to ask, 'What does it feel like for a kid to smoke this medicine?' I'm going to try that medicine. The story on the gentleman who has been in jail for 13 years for two joints (Bernard Noble), I don't smoke pot in that story. Partly because I'm in Louisiana where it's very illegal, but also because it wouldn't fit the tone of the story we're trying to tell.
Who: Krishna Andavolu from Weediquette
Where: New channel Viceland available from today on Sky Channel 13
When: Tonight, 9.20pm.
Also: Other shows screening on Viceland include Ellen Page's Gaycation, Action Bronson's F*ck That's Delicious, Black Market and Abandoned.