"High Maintenance" web series puts weed in spotlight

Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are finding gold in original content and now Vimeo is getting in on the act by going "green." The series "High Maintenance" is about everyday Americans who all have one thing in common: smoking pot, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

In the show, a scruffy Brooklyn pot dealer, known as "The Guy," bikes around the streets of New York City delivering weed to clients.

Characters include middle-aged women coping with cancer to cross-dressing men and everyone in between.

The first-ever "Vimeo Original" web series explores the lives of those using marijuana to cope, socialize and escape.

There is a lot of weed and a lot of weed smoking, but that's not what the show is all about.

"We are saying that just because a person uses a substance that doesn't define them as who they are," co-creator Ben Sinclair said.

His wife, Emmy-winning casting director of "30 Rock" Katja Blichfeld, is the other creator.

"Our show, I think, has been instrumental in opening up that conversation," she said.

The two created "High Maintenance" as a way to bond.

"We're always working. We're always sort of around the clock spit-balling and 'What about this?' or 'What if we saw a guy that was like this?'" Blichfeld said.

They struck on the idea while biking through Brooklyn.

"I think another message of our show is: you're not alone, whoever you are," Blichfeld said.

The duo said their characters are normal people "with eccentricities."

That's different from the way Hollywood has mined "stoner culture" for years, from the 1930s alarmist "Reefer Madness" to the comedic 1970s "Cheech and Chong," to the coming-of-age "Dazed and Confused." Now, "High Maintenance" is marijuana gone mainstream.

"Katja really pointed us in the direction focusing on the client and not making it some sort of weed story. It was more of a human interest story," Sinclair said.

Those stories piqued Vimeo's interest.

"I think the writing is incredible," Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor said. "The craft behind the actual shooting of the series and the editing of the series really sort of delivers a level of storytelling and experience that is not what we're used to in sort of ... typical web video."

Vimeo is now funding "High Maintenance's" second season and streaming new episodes for $1.99 each. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to the creators.

"When we look at their success on Vimeo in terms of sales, literally within the first two days, they generated equivalent sales to what would have taken them two years on YouTube," Trainor said.

With medicinal marijuana legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia and recreational use allowed in three, "High Maintenance" is finding a growing audience.

Blichfeld said the show "indirectly" promotes marijuana use "because we're not casting a judgment on it."

With Vimeo's backing, they're paying for actors, a bigger crew, more locations and better equipment.

"In the beginning we weren't paying anybody, so it was sort of hard to imagine that we could ask any more of people's time than just a day here, a day there, so that was sort of a constraint we had to work with," Blichfeld said.