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FRONTLINE: The Pot Republic

Airs Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 10 p.m. & Friday, July 29, 2011 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Credit: Courtesy of FRONTLINE

Above: Mendocino County Sergeant Randy Johnson (left) pays a visit to a medical marijuana farm run by Matt Cohen (right) as featured in "The Pot Republic." (Frontline incorrectly identified the officer in this photo by mistake in the original posting. This caption has been corrected.)

FRONTLINE presents "The Pot Republic," a timely report from the frontlines of marijuana legalization in California. The bulk of the marijuana consumed in the United States used to come across the border from Mexico, Canada and elsewhere. Now, more than half of it is believed to be home grown in California, where an enormous black market has emerged under the cover of the state’s medical marijuana law.

With more than a third of all states now experimenting with some form of legalization and decriminalization — and several California counties attempting to openly regulate pot production — FRONTLINE and The Center for Investigative Reporting team up to investigate the country’s oldest, largest and most wide-open marijuana market. Is the federal government now moving to shut it down?

Also this hour, New Yorker writer and surgeon Atul Gawande reports on a doctor in Camden, New Jersey, who actually seeks out the community’s sickest — and most expensive — patients. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner and his team are pioneering a practice called “hotspotting,” in which medical care is focused on the hardest-to-treat to improve their health and dramatically reduce costs.

Then, after the largest recorded earthquake in Japan set off a nuclear disaster, its people are facing a generation-defining moment as they question their lifestyle and dependency on nuclear power. FRONTLINE journeys with Marco Werman of PRI’s "The World" as he meets Chim↑Pom, a provocative group of young artists making headlines as they use art to challenge the status quo and ask Japanese society to rethink their way of life.

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Preview: Frontline: The Pot Republic

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Recently, the Justice Department issued a shot across the bow to states wrestling with how to regulate the growing and distribution of medical marijuana. Not only are these actions still illegal under federal law, but the Justice Department can also prosecute "those who knowingly facilitate such activities," including state and local officials. In "The Pot Republic," a joint investigation with the Center for Investigative Reporting airing July 26, 2011, we'll look at how we got to this point. Today more than a third of all states are experimenting with some form of legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, with several California counties attempting to openly regulate pot production. The city of Oakland, Calif. went so far as to propose licensing four massive indoor pot-growing facilities -- each the size of two football fields. But can the federal government roll back the market that medical marijuana laws have opened up? Stay tuned...

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