OAKLAND (CBS 5) — As federal authorities crack down on California’s medical marijuana industry, an East Bay dispensary profiled on a reality TV show has added a new dimension to the debate.

The Discovery Channel TV series “Weed Wars” is only in its second episode, but it’s already causing a buzz.

The latest episode profiles Jason, a Bay Area dad and his five-year-old son Jayden, who has suffered from a rare form of epilepsy since infancy.

Jason told the TV show no pharmaceutical worked. Desperate, he turned to Harborside Health Center, an Oakland medical marijuana dispensary.

“We introduced him to CBD rich cannabis, which we delivered in a tincture form, for this young patient,” said Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center.

“We have treated several children at Harborside Health Center. All of whom have had extremely grave illnesses,” he said.

CBD cannabis is not intoxicating because it does not contain THC, the psychoactive agent found in marijuana. The cannabis is administered to children using an eyedropper.

“Young brains don’t need psychoactive substances of any kind whether it be cannabis or valium,” DeAngelo said.

In the show “Weed Wars,” Jason administered marijuana to Jayden, saying the treatment didn’t bother his son.

Critics aren’t convinced, pointing to incidents such as one at an Albany school in February, when five children were hospitalized after eating marijuana-laced brownies.

But Harborside Health Center said America deserves to see how medical marijuana is helping patients, including children. That’s why they agreed to be on the reality TV series. But there is a real risk.

“We didn’t know a year ago when we agreed to this show, the federal government was going to reverse its policy on medical cannabis,” DeAngelo said. “And so it’s a very scary time for us right now.”

The Feds are pursuing $2.5 million in back taxes against Harborside.

Meanwhile, the dispensary said doctors recommended the cannabis for Jayden and he is now being monitored by several physicians.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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