VICE (2013) s05e04 Episode Script

Kings of Cannabis & Into the Darkness

1 (theme music) Shane Smith: This week on "Vice," the epic quest to find new and extremely lucrative strains of marijuana.
Jah! Rastafari! Franco Loja: When I hold one of those seeds in my hand, I will see businesses happening, fortunes made, and medicines created.
(truck engine idling) Been traveling for five days to get to this field, and this will be the first real field that we see.
Smith: And then, physicist Taylor Wilson, explores one of the great mysteries of the universe: dark matter.
I'm standing here at the Very Large Telescope, which is the most advanced optical observatory in the world.
What we are doing is, with these collisions, recreating what must have happened moments after the Big Bang.
Toboni: Go, go, go! (people shouting) Refugee: We are not animals! Over the last four seasons, "Vice" has documented the marijuana industry's expansion into a multibillion dollar business.
Now the race is on for more and more powerful product to sell.
And the search for rare genetic strains is taking entrepreneurs to some of the farthest corners of the planet.
We're four hours outside Kinshasa.
We're about to enter a weed field that may contain either Congo Red or Congo Black.
Because it's so close to the city, we don't know if the genetics will have been contaminated, but this is our first stop on the journey, and it'll be interesting to see what these fields contain.
Morris: The hunt for the original Congolese landrace has been going on for decades, and if this strain is discovered, it could mean a potential gold mine for these Western seed breeders.
(speaks English) (Arjan Roskam speaks) Morris: This is it, here's the ganja.
(Franco speaks English) Morris: Why is this tiny field of immature plants not satisfying to you? Selection.
If you see a very big field, you can check uniformity, you can check bugs, you can check diseases, you can check fungus.
Morris: Since their partnership began 20 years ago, Arjan and Franco's cannabis strains have won countless awards and gained them huge amounts of fame, earning them the title "Kings of Cannabis.
" (cheering) congratulate the king of the cannabis.
Morris: And it's made them both very rich.
(laughing) (Arjan speaking) Morris: Today, all of their breeding enterprises, Amsterdam coffee shops, and seed distribution centers combined are worth millions of dollars.
They're experts at scouring the world to find unique strains of cannabis, that they call "landraces.
" Without the unique genetics of these landraces, Arjan and Franco could have never built their cannabis empire.
- Ta-da! - Ta-da! Arjan: The vault.
This is roughly 30 years of work going all over the planet.
Argentina, Australia, Brazil.
These are all landraces? Morris: And they believe Equatorial Africa holds genetically unique strains that could revolutionize cannabis.
(Franco speaking) Morris: We headed to Kinshasa, to enlist the help of some local Rastafarians.
(speaks) (group speaks) Morris: Our guides had heard stories of huge, untouched weed fields, two days down the river that had never been seen by outsiders, but one thing was clear: The mission wasn't going to be easy.
(speaking foreign language) (groups speaks) Morris: Our journey started in the City of Kisangani, where we boarded our boats.
Morris: Traveling down a river by boat doesn't sound too bad at first, until you realize you're traveling on a hollowed-out tree trunk for two days and two nights.
Oh, my god! There are so many of them.
Oh, my god! Arrgh! Insects.
(Arjan speaking) (thunder rumbles) Morris: Since the discovery of cannabis, humans have been trying to cultivate and improve the plant, molding it to their own needs.
(Franco speaking) Morris: Through the path of human migration, unique landraces have emerged around the globe.
Most landraces from countries like Thailand and India have already been discovered, but the plants in Congo are largely unexplored, and may have untapped genetic potential.
And with the US market opening up, seeds that Arjan and Franco find here could be sold in the States, where their products were once illegal.
How much money do you think you could make from the seeds that you will collect on this trip? We think we are able to turn over billions in the future, with this new emerging market world-wide.
Do you think we'll find that seed? (woman singing in foreign language) (group sings along) Arjan: Jah! Go, go, go! Morris: We entered a small village that was ruled by a local chief.
We would need to ask his permission to see any fields.
(Arjan speaking) (Cabo speaking) (spits) Arjan: Okay, Merci beaucoup, huh? (Chief speaking) (spits) (applause) (Franco speaking) (shouting in foreign language, laughing) Morris: But it wasn't enough just to pay one chief they had to meet and pay many chiefs.
(speaks French) (speaks French) Morris: And they befriended local police, (laughing) and military as well.
(speaks French) Morris: And receive many blessings.
This is a gesture of trust, to allow somebody to shave my entire body, and possess the hairs afterwards.
(shouts) (laughter) Morris: We were met with nearly every conceivable obstacle.
Our fixer, Cabo, has malaria, the captain at the head of the boat, keeps looking for potentially deadly hippopotamuses and crocodiles.
This is all turning out to be much more difficult and extreme than I expected.
(yelps) (Franco speaking French) (shouting in foreign language) (Franco speaking English) (Arjan laughs) Quicksands! Quicksands! Thank you very much.
Morris: But everywhere we went, it seemed as if the fields had been cut, or were too young to produce seeds, or had mysteriously disappeared.
(Franco speaking) We've been traveling five days to get to this field in planes, on motorcycles, in canoes, on foot, in cars.
It's been an extremely long and difficult journey, and this will be the first real field that we see.
I'm hoping.
(Franco speaking French) (town officer speaking) Uh-huh.
(town officer speaking) Morris: We could only hope that this field was the real thing and not another dead end.
(both speaking French) Franco: This is it! (women singing in foreign language) Woo! I mean, it-- it's been a long journey.
It's been a painful, long at times beautiful journey.
Finally made it to a field full of mature Congolese sativas, and they are healthy, and beautiful and large, and they'll have mature seeds.
(both speaking French) (speaks English) How many people in the world have these seeds, do you think? (speaks English) Give me what is mine, mine Give me what is mine It's about time Alright Give me a slice of the cake Yes, that I man help to bake That's all I want Just a slice of the cake, man Morris: Arjan and Franco collected seeds of a unique Congolese landrace, and stand to make millions of dollars on it.
A fact that wasn't lost on the locals.
(indistinct yelling) It was like the village realized how much the potential value of this local weed field really was.
Obviously you've given the people small amounts of money along the way Yes.
- Which are large amounts of money for them.
- Yeah.
- But then, if you make $100,000 or a million dollars off of these seeds, do they get some percentage of that profit? Uh (chuckles) No.
That's how it works in our business.
Morris: Tensions flared over the value of the seeds, but the real work to find out exactly what they contained had just begun.
I'm in Switzerland.
They've been growing the seeds we brought back from Congo.
We're gonna take a sample of one of the buds, to see if there's something unique about the chemistry of this particular strain.
Looks almost exactly the same as the way it looked in Congo.
Yep, yeah.
(Franco speaking) Now is the moment of truth, to do the chemical analysis and really figure out what it is about these plants that makes them unique.
Today, they're hoping to find an unusual cannabinoid known as THCV.
THCV has been found previously in African sativas and has been proposed as a treatment for cognitive disorders and diabetes.
(Arjan speaking) (scientist speaking) Franco: That's pretty high.
Joost: I've never seen above one percent in, uh Joost: So that's pretty good.
The THCV is a chemical that's one of the rarer cannabinoids.
THC gives you the munchies.
THCV does the inverse, it could actually mean that it could stop your hunger.
Which could be hugely beneficial, for instance, for to treat obesity.
So there's a lot of potential.
All from this seed.
Arjan: We have the opportunity to do these kind of things, you know, it's worth the trip, it's worth the effort.
Going into the jungle, fighting your way through, bribing your way through.
In the end, you have the reward thing here.
You're looking at it, and yeah! This is it, you know? Ultimately, if you go to these secluded places, and you bring back the genetics, it's probably a good thing, but at the same time, you might be able to understand how there's this perception that outsiders have come.
They recognize that, "We have something of value, "and they're coming to take it from us, and what kind of compensation are we gonna have?" (Franco speaking) Morris: Franco returned to Congo to work with local farmers and government to begin a campaign for the legalization of cannabis in Africa.
Unfortunately, while there, he contracted malaria, which took his life.
Merci, guys! Last year, as we explored the future of energy, we met with Taylor Wilson, the youngest physicist ever to achieve a nuclear fusion reaction.
Smith: So, what did we just do there? (chuckling) We released a heck of a lot of energy! So when you went to the university, how old were you? Yeah, I was 14, yeah.
So you're Doogie Howser of the-- of the radioactive age.
Of the physics department.
This year, Taylor wanted to introduce us to the biggest mystery in physics-- that we can only identify five percent of what makes up the universe.
So he took us on a journey to find the other 95%, starting with the strange and unknown entity: dark matter.
Wilson: At our heart, we humans are explorers, and it's telescopes like these that, for now, are our spaceship to the stars.
I'm standing here at the Very Large Telescope, which is the most advanced, optical observatory in the world.
We can gaze 13 billion years or more, into the past, and answer questions like, "Where do we come from," "Where are we going," and that most important question, "What is this universe that we're living in?" What scientists have discovered so far is that 95% of what makes up our universe simply can't be accounted for.
The five percent of matter we can perceive abides by the laws of physics as we understand them, but when scientists apply the laws of gravity to how fast nearby galaxies are rotating, the math didn't add up.
Their calculations proved that there must be missing matter, since the forces should be ripping the galaxy apart, but they don't.
The reason is because of a mysterious type of particle known as dark matter, an invisible force which binds these galaxies together.
I believe that if we can solve this mystery, it may transform physics as we know it in the same way that Isaac Newton's laws of motion led to steam locomotives and rockets (engine roaring) and Albert Einstein's theories of relativity paved the way for satellites and nuclear power, and that has physicists scrambling to find it.
Man: We're going to be using the, uh, cage in order to take a ten-minute long trip to get ourselves over a mile under ground.
(rattling) Wilson: Richard Gaitskell is the principal investigator here at the Large Underground Xenon experiment, or LUX, the world's most sensitive dark matter detector.
Why are we going down a mile beneath the ground here? In order to search for dark matter, we need to find a really quiet environment.
Cosmic rays are produced in the upper atmosphere - due to very high energy particles hitting it.
- Yes.
What we do is we use that overburden of rock to shield out the cosmic rays.
When you take our Milky Way and just look at how the stars are arranged in it, it's very clear that the whole thing is rotating, In order for that rotation to be occurring at the speed it is, there would have to be nearly ten times more matter in the Milky Way than we had any evidence for.
The Milky Way shouldn't hold together, it should just fly apart, and the particles we're looking for are, these dark matter, we actually call them WIMPS.
Uh, it's an acronym simply for By "weak," we mean that they will simply pass through the Earth, and out through the other side.
Only very occasionally, because of the properties of the WIMP, does it choose to interact.
Right now, we're actually standing on top of this enormous, 80,000-gallon water tank.
Wow, so this is LUX.
Our dark matter detector.
Wilson: The LUX dark matter detector is submerged within this tank of highly-purified water.
Inside, a second tank is filled with super cooled liquid xenon.
If a dark matter particle strikes a xenon atom in this ultra quiet environment, the photo sensors will measure this mysterious particle.
So we've been looking for these Weakly Interacting Massive Particles for a very long time.
What have we found? Nothing.
Theorists continue to show that dark matter could well be there - and just be so weakly interacting - Wilson: So weakly interacting.
that we haven't yet built a big enough detector to see it.
People would dearly like to be the first scientist to be standing on top of an experiment that actually saw dark matter for the first time.
Solves the greatest mystery in modern physics.
It-- I mean, without a doubt.
Wilson: Since we can't capture this elusive particle, in Switzerland, they're actually trying to make it themselves.
CERN's Large Hadron Collider actually recreates the conditions of the Big Bang to study particles on an unprecedented level.
(beeping) Dr.
Tulika Bose has sifted through the data produced by the collider, looking for dark matter characteristics.
This is where the heart of the experiment is.
You have a beam of protons going in one of the beam pipes in a certain direction, and another beam of protons going in the other beam pipe in the opposite direction.
There are four points where the beam pipes are made to intersect, and that is happening in the center of the detector here.
So the beams collide and you have this explosion, a mess of particles that comes out, and what we are trying to see as a result of this, is what are these particles that are produced? What we are doing is, with these collisions, recreating what must have happened moments after the Big Bang.
I mean, these are kind of little moments of creation that are happening inside these detectors every time that beam of protons collides.
We can theorize that dark matter came out of the same processes, the same creation out of the Big Bang that everything else was made out of.
So I guess if you're able to recreate the Big Bang, in a way, in these detectors, you'll also be able to produce dark matter.
And that is one of our major goals.
Build the biggest machine in the world to sort of understand the tiniest of particles, because they will give us clues to the big questions.
- Awesome.
Wilson: If they manage to find new particles, it could prove the missing link of a fundamental force of nature that most people assume we understand: gravity.
So I think most of us think we have a pretty good understanding of gravity.
I mean, we see how it works in our everyday lives, and planets rotate around the sun, and the, you know, galaxies continue to spin and spiral, but what's missing about this picture of gravity? What-- what don't we know? So we understand gravity at the macroscopic level in the sense of, you know, it keeps us, you know, on this floor supplanted here.
However, we don't really understand it at the microscopic or the particle level.
So, the-- the particle picture of gravity, and how it fits into the standard model is incomplete.
Potentially these answers could bridge us towards answering the question of dark energy.
Wilson: The search for an answer to the mystery of dark matter led to an even bigger discovery: dark energy.
Dark matter has the gravitational effect of holding galaxies together, but dark energy is actually an entirely different force that is expanding the universe seemingly infinitely outward.
The Very Large Telescope array in Chile was key to the discovery of this even more mysterious force.
Man: This telescope can see down to 29th magnitude, - Wow.
- So, that's a factor of a billion.
So if your eye collects one photon, this thing collects a billion photons.
Wilson: Bruno Leibundgut was a member of one of the Nobel Prize winning teams that shocked the world when they discovered that not only was the universe expanding, this expansion was actually accelerating.
The way you found that this dark energy, this acceleration of the universe, - was you looked at supernovae.
- Yeah.
What are supernovae? So, supernovae are exploding stars.
I think that's the simplest way of putting it.
That is a very specific type of an explosion, which we believe always reaches the same luminosity.
So, it-it-it becomes bright, it peaks, and then it fades away, disappears.
If you have your 60-watt bulb in your room, you know how much light it's going to get.
If you see a 60-watt bulb at your neighbor's, it's going to be fainter, and if you have a universe that just expands regularly, then you-- you just plot this up on a ruler, and you will find an equal distance, but then, we did the measurement.
"This isn't right.
" The distant supernovae are too far away.
So yes, the universe is expanding, but it looked like it was expanding even faster the further you looked away.
Now, in a universe with gravity alone, you cannot do that.
Yeah, what explains that? So, what explains that? Well, dark energy.
And what is that composed of? What is that? Who knows? Uh, you tell me.
That's the question we need to answer.
Wilson: And while dark energy and dark matter may not weigh on people's minds each day, we are actually already benefiting from them by more than just their gravitational pulls.
That's because the enormous amount of technology that has been developed in order to aid scientists as they seek to better understand the universe has led to incredible advancements that we now take for granted in our everyday lives.
So, the World Wide Web was actually invented here at CERN as a way for the scientists and engineers to collaborate and communicate, and build these massive physics experiments.
In 2015, the experiments on the Large Hadron Collider generated over 40 petabytes worth of data.
That's 40 million gigabytes worth of data, and who knows what discoveries and impacts on our lives will come from the sifting through of the data to discover things like dark matter and the fundamental forces and particles that make up our universe.
There's really no better driver of innovation than just asking really, really big hard questions.
We use image analysis software to see galaxies or stars, and now you use them to fight cancer.
And my question is, how do I understand dark energy better? Somebody, maybe, will use that knowledge and develop something different that makes our lives better.
Wilson: It's in the DNA of our species to explore new frontiers.
This exploration of the unknown is responsible for the success of our species, and by better understanding our universe, we empower ourselves to solve the problems we face, and propel ourselves into the stars.
Science is never finished.
When you have new observations that show you something else, then you have to modify your picture.
Science will go on forever.
Cause there's always something new to discover.
That's right.