CBS Cheers Pot Legalization After Warning of Dangers

It’s hard to tell if CBS is in or out when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. Tuesday's segment on CBS This Morning painted a pretty rosy picture of the California initiative to legalize recreational pot. Opinions of the ethics of pot legalization aside, the piece only provided one example of negative criticism of the initiative if passed, and quickly glanced over that in order to repeatedly bring up the pros of the measure.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: Well good morning, the owners here say that legalization could boost their business and also generate some much needed tax dollars for the state of California. If this passes other states could possibly follow and would force the federal government to confront this issue. For both sides of this story the stakes are high. The golden state has been a leader in culture and policy. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana 20 years ago and now it could become the fifth and largest state to approve recreational use.

GAVIN NEWSOM: This issue is about getting drug dealers off the streets that are predators targeting our kids.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: This initiative has big name backers including Gavin Newsom and Shawn Parker. Proponents say a 15% retail tax on the drug the California cannabis market could reportedly generate $7 billion a year. Groups working to defeat the initiative say legalizing marijuana comes with a cause.

KEVIN SABET: In Colorado we saw an increase in poisoning, an increase in emergency room accidents, an increase in fatal crashes. I think overtime as we count those costs, they become tremendous and they overwhelm any tax revenue you'd get from legalizing the drug.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: If the measure passes in California, the number of Americans living in states where pot is legal will more than triple.

TAYLOR WEST: That really helps put pressure on congress to deal with some of the major issues that have come out of the state and federal conflict on cannabis laws.

This pro pot piece by CBS joins the long and schizophrenic series of other CBS stories related to marijuana. Newsbusters associate editor Scott Whitlock has monitored this hot and cold trend from CBS for some time.  According to Whitlock last May:

CBS This Morning on Thursday returned to a favorite topic of the network's journalists: Legalized pot. This time, reporter Barry Petersen hyped an all marijuana radio station. With no hint at any downside, co-host Norah O'Donnell introduced, "A Colorado radio station is fine-tuning its format to reach a higher audience in the land of legalized marijuana." 

Reporter Barry Petersen enthused, "With revenue and audience numbers climbing to the sky, at K-HIGH, it's good to be high." Explaining the station's lineup of hosts, he promoted, "And in the afternoon, there are the Weed Pimps." 

This almost entirely pro piece had been previously preceded by a more negative report on pot in April in which CBS focused on the chilling deaths and murders linked to tainted marijuana edibles. Instead of remaining balanced in their reporting, CBS has decided to follow their long held tradition of not giving you the straight story on weed, swinging from negative to positive high notes whenever the mood suits them.

The entire transcript from the segment can be seen below.

CBS This Morning

[7:44:24-7:47:26; 3 min 2 sec]

NORAH O’DONNELL: The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana is officially under way in California. A similar ballot initiative failed in 2010 but a recent poll shows nearly 60% of voters support this measure. Mareya Villarreal is in Sherman oaks showing us how some are prepared to cash in. Mareya, good morning.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: Well good morning, the owners here say that legalization could boost their business and also generate some much needed tax dollars for the state of California. If this passes other states could possibly follow and would force the federal government to confront this issue. For both sides of this story the stakes are high. 
The golden state has been a leader in culture and policy. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana 20 years ago and now it could become the fifth and largest state to approve recreational use.

GAVIN NEWSOM: This issue is about getting drug dealers off the streets that are predators targeting our kids.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: This initiative has big name backers including Gavin Newsom and Shawn Parker. Proponents say a 15% retail tax on the drug the California cannabis market could reportedly generate $7 billion a year. Groups working to defeat the initiative say legalizing marijuana comes with a cause.

KEVIN SABET: In Colorado we saw an increase in poisoning, an increase in emergency room accidents, an increase in fatal crashes. I think overtime as we count those costs, they become tremendous and they overwhelm any tax revenue you'd get from legalizing the drug.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: If the measure passes in California, the number of Americans living in states where pot is legal will more than triple.

TAYLOR WEST: That really helps put pressure on congress to deal with some of the major issues that have come out of the state and federal conflict on cannabis laws.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: The California cannabis industry is also watching.

KEITH MCCARTHY: Yeah, we're really excited.

MAREYA VILLARREAL : Keith McCarthy runs Eaze, an app which allows users order medical marijuana online and have it delivered to their home within a half hour. He’s sees plenty potential growth for his business.

KEITH MCCARTHY: With more demand everything gets better and easier.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: Ease is part of a growing trend; 115 California businesses have joined the National Cannabis Industry Association, and at a cannabis job fair earlier this spring, thousands lined up for a chance to be a part of this budding industry.

TAYLOR WEST: It is certainly being driven by the idea that the California market has the potential to grow substantially in the next few years.

MAREYA VILLARREAL: When California defeated this initiative six years ago, it was during a mid-term election. Supporters say this year's contentious presidential election could bring out more young, Progressive voters which could help pass this initiative this time around, Norah.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Really Interesting, Mareya. Thank you so much. 

NB Daily Culture/Society CBS CBS This Morning Video marijuana Norah O'Donnell
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