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Miami Beach comedian Steve Berke is in the middle of an ardent conversation about the decriminalization of marijuana and the plant's benefits when he interrupts himself to ask, "Do you know anybody who doesn't know someone who smokes weed?"
We don't. In fact, everyone we know knows at least one person who smokes pot. Moreover, they probably smoke pot too. And that's precisely what Berke is trying to remind folks with his latest music video, "Pot Shop," a pro-marijuana rap parody of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" that highlights the medicinal value of Mary Jane.
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Berke says. "I discovered 'Thrift Shop' when it had a million views [on YouTube]. I listened to the song, loved it. Watched it again, loved it."
But it took a few months of "Thrift Shop" looping in Berke's brain before he began reworking the lyrics. "The chorus was easy," he says. "'I'm gonna smoke some weed, only got $20 in my pocket.'"
He then studied the lyrical structure of the song and wrote the "somewhat goofy" first verse before slapping the public with weed facts. "What you know about the science of marijuana?/What you know about people suffering from glaucoma?" Berke raps. "They need it, they need it, it helps them with their condition/If don't believe me, then just ask some eye physicians."
Naturally, we took his advice.
"Marijuana lowers eye pressure," says Dr. Linda Kaplan, Berke's ophthalmologist and "Pot Shop" costar. "Now, that's one aspect of it. The second aspect of it is what form of marijuana and in what way it can be used so that it's safe."
Smoking weed, for example, is "not a good way to lower eye pressure," she insists. "The marijuana can be processed and made into an eye drop, and that's far more effective."
However, medical marijuana research is uncommon, and the eye drop isn't available to treat the estimated 2.2 million Americans with glaucoma. "Not too many people want to do the work on illegal drugs," the doctor admits, though she favors "testing any molecule that has been found to be effective for lowering eye pressure" for patients with optic disorders.
"[Dr. Kaplan] is awesome," Berke enthuses, admitting it took a few days before the ophthalmologist agreed to make a cameo in the video.
"[Steve] told me that [the video] was about marijuana," the doctor says. "He asked me what I thought about marijuana for glaucoma, and I said, 'In fact, it does work. That is medically proven.'"
As luck would have it, it's also been medically proven that pot is not as bad as the federal government claims.
"If you want to smoke marijuana recreationally, complete an eye exam by your ophthalmologist," Dr. Kaplan says. "As long as your optic nerve is not compromised, go ahead."
Thanks, doc. Puff. Puff. Pass.