Richard Bratenburg and Rick Bratenburg Jr. have been working together in the cannabis trade since 2015, operating a marijuana investment fund. After their fund purchased the Clear, a popular marijuana extraction and vaporizer brand, in 2017, the pair expanded into marijuana consulting, CBD products and more strategic investing, and thought that their family business dynamic was interesting enough to showcase on the small screen.
The Bratenburgs have partnered with local producer Patrick Hackett and cable TV producer David McKillop, whose credits include reality shows like Deadliest Catch, Duck Dynasty, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars and Storage Wars, to create an eight-episode series about Richard, Rick and their peers in the marijuana business. Although a deal hasn’t been inked, Richard says filming is underway and negotiations are currently taking place with a large TV network.
“The [producers] like the generational or family dynamic. The show is kind of a mashup between Pawn Stars and Shark Tank, where Denver isn’t the host of the show, but we’re kind of the hub. All of these interesting characters will come in, and we either acquire the business or talk about doing a deal with them through our Clear line of products — or maybe they just need help raising money,” Richard explains.
The father-son-duo got into the marijuana business seven years ago, as Richard began dabbling in pot investments “passively, like a hobby,” he recalls. But Rick Jr. was getting bored with his investment banking job at Merrill Lynch, and joined with his father in exploring the entrepreneurial opportunities of marijuana.
“We work very well together,” says Rick Jr. “We’re a family business. We’re very emotionally invested in the success of these companies [we invest in], and at the end of the day I think that will shine through. We’re trying to build the biggest cannabis company in the world, period, and this show will follow that.”
If they land a TV show deal, it won’t be the first time that father and son have worked together in front of an audience.
“We’ve pretty much been working together since he was born,” says Richard, who coached his son in hockey for thirteen years. “We have worked together through my various entrepreneurships. Sometimes I’d use Rick in trade shows, demos for infomercials.”
Now a camera crew is following the Bratenburgs and their team through Denver, across the country and into Canada as they expand their marijauna interests. According to Richard, the proposed show would take viewers through the science behind cannabis and the legal hurdles that marijuana businesses face, such as federal banking prohibitions and the differences between THC, CBD, marijuana and hemp. Although the Bratenburgs are the main focus of High Science, Rick Jr. promises that colorful characters in Denver’s marijuana space will make appearances, as well.
“First and foremost, we have to entertain, so we have to gain the audience’s trust by giving them something entertaining. My father and I are fairly animated characters, and there are definitely people in this industry who are characters,” he adds. “There’s also the fairly high-risk tolerance and preposterous situations of cannabis, and I think that adversity will be fairly interesting.”
Although recreational sales have been allowed in Denver since January 1, 2014, the local marijuana space has been getting some cable TV attention lately. Last year, TV entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis showcased a handful of Denver marijuana businesses on his CNBC show Street Dreams. Earlier this year, Denver dispensary Simply Pure appeared on High Design, a Discovery+ show about dispensary makeovers, while local cannabis chef Jarod Farina recently competed on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.
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