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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
"Gone to Pot: America's Marijuana Obsession"
Aired June 21, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Tonight, a special look at America's biggest crash crop, marijuana, and the growing battle to legalize it. On one side, it's said taxing it would help the government's fiscal problems. On the other, (INAUDIBLE) calling it gateway drug that leads to even greater danger.
You'll meet the pot moms of southern California, including a woman known as a Martha Stewart of marijuana -- all of them say it makes them better parents and reduces their anxiety and pain.
Plus, CNN's "INSIDE MAN", Morgan Spurlock, shows what it's like to work in a marijuana dispensary.
And I'll talk to the expert, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about the real effects on the human body.
This is our special report, "Gone to Pot: America's Marijuana Obsession."
Now, there's no denying the power of pot: 18 states and the District of Columbia approved its useful medical purposes, among them, California, where we are now. And that's where we begin tonight with the most intriguing group of well-heeled moms who use pot and are proud of it. They swear it makes them better parents.
Well, joining me now is: Cheryl Shuman, who runs the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, also with me: January Thomas, Amie Machado, and Glenda Gurllen.
Welcome to you ladies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
MORGAN: So, you are the pot moms of Beverly Hills.
Let me start with you then, Cheryl. You seem to be the ringleader of this intriguing group.
In a nutshell, what is this all about?
CHERYL SHUMAN, MOTHER AND MARIJUANA USER: Well, I was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, and I used cannabis as a last resort to heal myself and was able to stabilize myself. And when I did that, I thought it was very important to come out of the closet as a corporate woman who used cannabis to basically redefine the sector.
There is a huge stereotype that's usually assigned to a cannabis user and it's not exactly pretty and it's not exactly a nice image. So, when I got cancer and started using cannabis, I wanted to redefine it, give hope and empowerment to women who are like me, who are corporate women out there in the world so that they could be honest about their cannabis use with their children and basically put a new face on it and redefine it.
MORGAN: All of you, you've all got children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
MORGAN: Right. And you all use cannabis regularly and take care of your kids. So, the obvious question -- let me come to you, January. You have a 2-year-old I think, right?
JANUARY THOMAS, MOTHER AND MARIJUANA USER: Right.
MORGAN: The obvious question say well you can't take cannabis and take care of your 2-year-old child on your own, can you?
THOMAS: I completely disagree with that. Mothers, people, parents every day take Vicodin or medications to help cure their pain or for anxiety, insomnia. For me, cannabis is a medication. I know my typical dosage, it's wait out. I know how to space it out, just like someone would take Tylenol --
MORGAN: What is your message?
THOMAS: I like to eat like maybe half of a cookie, one whole cookie is a little too much for me, depends on the strength. Sometimes I'll take a few inhales off the vapor, cannabis vapor cigarette.
MORGAN: So you're not talking a lot. You're talking about a little bit. You're taking every day.
THOMAS: Yes, I do.
MORGAN: Like you would a prescription drug.
MORGAN: Let me come to you, Glenda.
GLENDA GURLLEN, MOTHER AND MARIJUANA USER: Yes.
MORGAN: What are the benefits? All of you suffered various pains, anxieties, and so on. Do you feel a physical and mental benefit from taking cannabis?
GURLLEN: Yes, I do. I feel like I'm able to be more interactive with my children, and they --
MORGAN: Why? Why do you feel that?
GURLLEN: Because I was real sick, and they put me on these -- a lot of medications and I started consuming cannabis and they had to do surgery. I have a hysterectomy and I had a lot of blood issues. And cannabis was helping me and once I finished with the procedure and everything, it helped me, and once I was feeling good enough to be active and everything, that helped me even better to be more for my kids.
MORGAN: So, it reduced -- it reduced the pain?
MORGAN: And it also reduced anxiety, you believe?
MORGAN: And you all found that?
MORGAN: So, good for anxiety, good for pain reduction --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great for PMS --
MORGAN: Right. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't deal with that any more.
SHUMAN: Pharmaceuticals and intravenous morphine pump during cancer treatment. And I was diagnosed as terminal. I was actually in the middle of planning my memorial service when I had given up.
And when I went into hospice care, my daughter who's here was my caregiver and she held my hand and said, mom, we're going to take care of you -- and we found out how to get a legal garden, started our garden, and now, we built a multimillion dollar company together.
MORGAN: Obviously, it's potentially going to be a huge business going forward because this is clearly the way that America is moving on this debate.
Amie, there will be lots of moms watching this at home saying this is outrageous, what do these women think they are doing, smoking all this dope and looking after their kids? And as they say that they are doing that, they'll be clutching a large glass of wine.
AMIE MACHADO, MOTHER AND MARIJUANA USER: Or vodka.
MORGAN: Or having a drink, and seeing no hypocrisy there. And this comes to the central knob of this whole debate for me anyway, which is -- is cannabis, marijuana, is it any different in terms of the potential harm to a parent, to a mother, to a wife, to anybody than alcohol?
MACHADO: Absolutely. Absolutely, absolutely it is. For myself -- MORGAN: Do you think it's less harmful, more harmful, the same?
MACHADO: No, it's less harmful. Marijuana is a much healthier way, natural, than doing Vicodin or the cocktail of whatever medications that you're taking. So, if you're taking a cannabis and you're -- and you're either doing it by a vaporizer or you're doing it by a candy or a cookie or something like that, it's different and you can control it and you don't want more because you know what you need.
MORGAN: OK. Cheryl, you all have kids, and when they get to be teenagers, my understanding about marijuana is it can be more problematic in younger people, below the age of 25, say, than it is for fully grown adults.
Knowing that, would you be happy for your kids to take cannabis from teenage years?
SHUMAN: Well, I want to address one thing a moment ago. The important fact about prescription tobacco and alcohol and cannabis, no one has ever died of a drug overdose using cannabis ever in history of medicine. It was available for 3,500 years and could even be purchased on our pharmacy shelves until 1937.
On the other hand, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs account for millions of deaths every year.
Now, getting back to the children issue, I had a different situation. I had to come out of the closet with my children because I had cancer and my children are grown.
MORGAN: You call it coming out of the closet then?
MORGAN: Secret marijuana use?
SHUMAN: Yes. Well, here's what has happened. There are millions of cannabis consumers across this country and what happened because the media generally portrays this negative image and stereotype, people who have corporate jobs, high-paying jobs, who have children, they're afraid that will lose their children. So, they are afraid to come out of the closet.
This is very similar, Piers, to the LGBT movement, the gay marriage movement. This is a lifestyle choice.
MORGAN: Well, it's interesting. We'll reveal the results of the poll later, but it suggests the majority of Americans now generally are moving in favor of legalizing marijuana in the same way that if you took the same thing on gay marriage 10 years ago, not a chance, now the slight majority are in favor of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have Pat Robertson came out in favor of legalization.
MORGAN: Right. We're painting a rosy picture of it, January, as if this is the greatest thing as sliced bread and maybe it is. But what are the downsides that you have to be careful of?
THOMAS: You have to be careful, just like any prescription drugs, we keep it very safe, locked away from our daughter, you know, keep it in a safe place -- we explained to her it's a medicine. It's for adults. It's something that mommy and daddy use.
I mean, you would take Tylenol in front of your children. I see nothing wrong --
MORGAN: Well, America -- let's just be honest, America is a wash with prescription --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
MORGAN: -- drugs and with over-the-counter drugs. I mean, you're going to go to any Walmart and any of those places, it's just like a sea of pills that America takes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MORGAN: Sanjay Gupta, I'm going to talk to later, did a whole documentary about this. America takes more than any country on planet earth. So, you know, that's why the cannabis debate is particularly interesting --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Piers, my --
MORGAN: Because it is -- you know, like for like. You got to say, how can this be anymore harmful than taking Vicodin every day? I've taken Vicodin when I broke my ribs. It was (INAUDIBLE). I was (INAUDIBLE) stuff.
SHUMAN: My children told me at their private school that the biggest problem is not cannabis. They kind of laugh at cannabis, they don't take it seriously. The big fad with young people today are prescription pill parties where they go in and raid their parents medicine cabinets, put them in a bowl, they take a little turn and they all take a bunch of pills.
MORGAN: So they watched "House" and they think, give me another Vicodin. I mean, this is a real point, a lot of those drugs that you get, the pain relief and so on that you get through a doctor are pretty addictive.
SHUMAN: The other thing, too, I like to address about cannabis. The thing that I've seen --
MORGAN: Why do you call it cannabis and not marijuana --
SHUMAN: Because marijuana is a slang name and cannabis is actually the true scientific name.
MORGAN: So, the actual drug itself is cannabis and it's become known as marijuana.
SHUMAN: And I think it deserves some respect, so I always call it cannabis.
MORGAN: OK. OK, even though you're known as the Martha Stewart of marijuana.
By the way, why are you known as that?
SHUMAN: Well, I was one of the first women to come out of the closet from the corporate sector and not only that but I had a magazine, that I built $6.5 million dollar company. I have my own line of products and --
MORGAN: And you must be thinking -- no disrespect you must be thinking if this carries on being legalized all over America, this is the biggest ka-ching your business is ever going to see, isn't it?
SHUMAN: This is the green rush. I knew when I got better I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to lead it and hopefully be a good role model for other people to provide jobs.
The bottom line is cannabis is here to stay. It's -- the toothpaste is out of the tube. It's not going away.
And cannabis is not only a plant that can heal a multitude of illnesses. It can heal our economy and it can provide programs for single mothers who need childcare, for veterans that are coming back from the war with PTSD. We're losing more veterans in this country from PTSD and suicide, and cannabis was even recognized by the V.A. administration as being helpful for --
MORGAN: That is very true. It is true. I mean, a lot of these things, you can see that it could be helpful for.
There will be people -- let me talk to you about this, Amie -- there will be people watching saying I'm not buying this. I've got kids. If they take cannabis, they will take cocaine, heroin. It's a slippery slope, what do you say?
MACHADO: I say that you need to educate your children. You need to talk to them and let them know.
I have a 22-year-old, I have a 19-year-old, and have an 8-year-old.
My 22-year-old got involved with any -- everything other than cannabis because I was involved with cannabis, and I feel that he was just trying to do something out of the box because I gave him that education. Once I found out about his use, I definitely talked to him, got him some help and now he is by my side. He works with me in our business.
MORGAN: Could you make edible cannabis, right?
MACHADO: Yes, I do.
MORGAN: So, what do you make?
MACHADO: I make cookies. I make cakes.
MORGAN: Any variety.
MACHADO: Anything and everything you can do. My husband is a pastry chef.
MORGAN: Can you mix some with fruit and stuff like that? Can they have flavors? I mean, how has it worked?
MORGAN: This is fascinating. I have not expected, I thought -- part of me thought, and again, for a bunch of stoners in here, and it's going to be a very difficult interview. You're clearly not. And you're smart women who clearly worked out, this is good for you, it is legal, and it is coming to America fast.
So, ladies, thank you very much indeed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
MORGAN: Pot moms of Beverly Hills.
Coming next, inside the booming medical marijuana business. CNN's "INSIDE MAN", Morgan Spurlock, goes to work at a pot clinic in California and tells me what he learned. That's coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA ETHERIDGE: I am a card-holding medicine registered cannabis person in California and I use it as medicine to help the gastrointestinal issues I have after chemotherapy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of seniors grew up as I did, you know, thinking something only jazz musicians do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we've all evolved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, the whole country is evolving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Evolving and for her at least, that means getting high.
That's Oscar nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock inside California's booming medical marijuana industry. It's all part of his new show, "INSIDE MAN", here on CNN. And Morgan Spurlock is with me tonight.
Morgan, welcome back to you. We had a brief chat about this early in the week and we've got this huge pot special tonight.
MORGAN SPURLOCK, "INSIDE MAN": Right.
MORGAN: You've got the show on Sunday, and you work in a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, here in California. Tell me what you found out going through. What did you go into? What was the preconceived view and what did you come out with?
SPURLOCK: I mean, I think the preconceived view for me when I went to this place is that it was going to be, you know, a little sleazy. It was going to be filled with stoners, just looking to get, you know, good weed and what you start to see, first off, the clinic is run like any typical health clinic would be. I mean, it's beautiful inside. It looks better than a lot of health clinics I've been to here in New York City.
And when you start meeting the people that come in there, you know, the lion's share of folks who are coming in have real health problems, have real health issues. You know, they have cancer, they have leukemia, they are dealing with mental distress or mental illness. They're trying to get off medication they are on, prescription medication, and it's interesting to see these are people looking to get help.
MORGAN: Were you surprised how easy it was to get a medical marijuana license?
SPURLOCK: Yes, it's pretty simple. It's -- you know, it's not like you have to have a tremendous amount of proof of an illness. Like I went in and talked about how stressed I was with my job. You know how it is, piers, you get stressed at work all the time. So --
SPURLOCK: Yes. So, that's what (INAUDIBLE), went in and I just talked about my stress and walked out with a card.
MORGAN: And in terms of overall debate, has your view about the marijuana debate changed at all?
SPURLOCK: I mean, when you look at a state like California where -- and the dispensary that I was in is the largest dispensary in the United States. It makes about $25 million a year, all of the money then going back into the clinic where they offer health services for their clients.
They offer yoga. They offer psychiatric treatment, you know, like psychologist treatment. They offer the ability of people to come there and have like relaxation exercises. You know, to be able to pour that in and offer this to the community and to the members of that place -- I mean, I think it's a great thing. And when you look at the way they're doing and if that's the model that they accumulate around the country, I mean, I think it could be really beneficial.
MORGAN: I mean, do you put all the sort of financial arguments. A lot of the ones against legalizing it are, to me, they sound quite spurious. They say, we'll lose jobs in rehab centers. We'll lose jobs in law enforcement who have to go after the pot dealers, et cetera, et cetera.
These aren't great arguments to me if the plus side --
SPURLOCK: That's right.
MORGAN: -- is that you can have clean centers and people can deal with their complaints legally, it's controlled. And also, the money you could bring in is pretty substantial, billions of dollars from taxing this.
SPURLOCK: That's right.
MORGAN: And also, you know, I would assume as I've just interviewed one of these pot moms with a thriving business, it will create a whole new world of jobs anyways, wouldn't it?
SPURLOCK: That's right. As she said, you know, the green rush is actually happening right now from people who want to have dispensaries, people who want to grow it, people who want to be the middleman to help transport it. I think that there are a tremendous amount of people fighting against it.
One of the largest people fighting against it are the prison corporations. You know, we created a situation in the United States now where we create corporate businesses that are prisons that only can operate and only can function by keeping those prisons full.
And so, it's in their best interest to keep these drugs illegal. We have thrown a tremendous number of people in prison for first-time offenses when it comes to marijuana and these are people who want to make sure this place stay open because they make millions and millions of dollars.
MORGAN: Interesting to me, these moms -- they all get prescribed specific amounts like it is a prescription drug, not very much by the sound of it. None of them seem to be taking it to get high necessarily.
MORGAN: It's for anxiety or pain relief and so on, exactly what you expect a prescription drug to do.
SPURLOCK: Yes. MORGAN: One of the arguments I think in favor of legalization is the strength of cannabis on the streets is much stronger in recent years and therefore dangerous. If you had it in a more controlled legalized environment, you could deal with that.
SPURLOCK: And you would know what you're getting. I mean, that's the one thing. If you go out and you would buy it on a street corner from some guy selling it, you know, you have no idea what you're getting. But if you go into one of these clinics, they can tell you the dosage is, how powerful it's going to be. You know what's inside of it. You know, it's not mixed with other chemicals that can be incredibly dangerous for you.
That is part of the hypocrisy you guys were talking about in the first block is that, you know, here are these moms all across the country who are taking Prozac and Vicodin and Xanax and OxyContin and Oxycodone, you name, yet the minute somebody is saying that they are taking some type of cannabis product or marijuana product, you're seen as a criminal, and I think that part of what you have to do is change that stigma.
MORGAN: Absolutely, which is a fascinating subject. Morgan, it's a great show you've got on Sunday, "INSIDE MAN", Morgan Spurlock, premieres June 23rd at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Good to talk to you again.
SPURLOCK: Cheers, Piers.
MORGAN: Next to "Gone to Pot", if alcohol and cigarettes are legal, then why isn't marijuana? Will legalization lead to more drug addiction? That debate coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOOP LION: It's more medical than anything. It helps you as opposed to hurt you. You don't hear nothing about people going out, you know, doing crazy crimes on marijuana, getting into driving accidents, none of that. You just see people calm, relaxed and dealing with medical problems or staying to themselves and being on they own little ride.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Here is a fact, cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in America, alcohol consumption is the third, both kill and both are perfectly legal. Why is smoking pot a crime? Is it time to end the war on marijuana?
With me now are: Neill Franklin, retired police major and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition or LEAF, and also with us, David Evans, a criminal defense attorney, special advisor to Drug Free America Coalition.
Let me start with you, Neill. You're the head of a group of law enforcement officers who want to stop the war on drugs. What is the reality of that war? NEILL FRANKLIN, RETIRED STATE POLICE MAJOR AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LEAP: The reality of that war is very, very dangerous communities and a nightmare for law enforcement. We have thousands of murders across this country every single year. We talk about the numbers of murders that we have in Mexico, but nobody is talking about the murders we have in this country.
In 2009, journalists and I estimated that number on the low end to be over 6,500 murders the result of drug prohibition policies in our country, right in our own backyard. So let's reduced and the violence we have in our communities, stop filling up the jails. Our jails are not institutions of higher learning.
These folks go to prison, come back out into the community, can't get jobs, but the drug trade will hire them back into a violent cycle again.
MORGAN: So, David Evans, I mean, you know, that's all undeniably true and you wish to continue to criminalize marijuana, why?
DAVID EVANS, SPECIAL ADVISOR TO DRUG FREE AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, first of all, it's not undeniable true. There's a lot of false statements in what LEAF has said. Legalizing drug is a very naive approach. It's simplistic and it just simply isn't going to work, if we look at the experience in other countries.
I say it's naive because what will happen if you legalize drugs and if you legalize marijuana, that all the commercial interests are going to come into play. It's not just about legalizing it so you can have a joint at home in the privacy of your home. It will be a big industry and they're going to focus on the young people, just like alcohol and tobacco focuses on young people because if they get them hooked, they will have customers the rest of their lives.
MORGAN: Wait a minute --
EVANS: It's absolutely untrue --
MORGAN: No, no, you wait a minute, let me just jump in.
MORGAN: My response to that would be, well, yes, the point of the debate is it any more harmful, marijuana, than tobacco or alcohol? Most of the scientific evidence suggests that it's no more harmful, in which case, you may not like the fact that people can buy and smoke cigarettes or buy and drink alcohol, but it's perfectly legal. It's now perfectly legal to do the same with cannabis in at least two states and many more are following.
If it's no more harmful, that's the only reason that I can see that you would have this whole debate in the first place. If it's no more harmful, why not legalize it? EVANS: Piers, your very poorly informed on the dangers of marijuana. Marijuana combines the worst aspects of tobacco and the worst aspects of alcohol. It's mind-altering. It's addictive. We now see kids coming into college with higher rates of marijuana dependence than alcohol dependence.
The public, the problem is the public perception of marijuana is not caught up with the recent science. If people looked at the recent science, they would see marijuana is -- has more carcinogenic properties than does tobacco. In fact, the state of California Department of Environmental Protection has declared marijuana smoke to be a carcinogenic.
It is involved in drug driving. Young you talk about deaths from the cartels -- well, in California now, drug driving is surpassing drunk driving. So, we're going to have more depths on highways. Most of those people are going to be young people, they're going to be dying.
MORGAN: You're painting a very apocalyptic picture, Mr. Evans, have you taken marijuana yourself?
EVANS: I smoked pot in college, of course. I went through --
MORGAN: You're still alive. You haven't killed anyone. You haven't gone crazy. You seem perfectly well. You seem reasonably rational.
EVANS: But marijuana back then was a relatively benign substance compared to the way it is today. Today it's highly addictive. The THC in marijuana is a lot higher --
MORGAN: That's exactly -- that is exactly the argument as to why you should legalize it because there is so much stronger stuff on streets, the best way to deal with this surely is to legalize it, control it, prescribe it and, you know, as these mothers showed me earlier, in small doses, it can enhance people's lives, not ruin it.
EVANS: You can't control the amount of THC in a substance and if people want the stronger THC, they're just going to go to the black market anyway.
You need to look at what's being done in Europe. In Great Britain, they've now reversed their marijuana policy, they decriminalized it. They've now recriminalized it because they had problems with kids going into mental institutions because of high to potency marijuana.
The Netherlands has also now reverse their policy and they've now made high potency marijuana on the same level as heroin --
MORGAN: OK, let me bring back Neill Franklin. Your reaction to this?
FRANKLIN: Piers, I think most of your listeners know that the information that Mr. Evans is giving us right now is false. But even if it were true, I ask this question, why would we continue to support the policy that's causing all of the problems that Mr. Evans is referring to, but why would we continue to support a policy that puts more drug dealers on our street corners who are not regulated or controlled? They hire kids to sell marijuana and other drugs to kids.
There is a reason they call them pushers, because they push drugs on people when you go to them for marijuana, they will push other drugs on people. It's the environment that's more dangerous than anything else for our young people.
So it's not only dangerous for them because more drugs, deadly drugs are potentially available for them -- unregulated, uncontrolled, no quality control measures, but our streets have become very violent. Tools of the trade are guns.
That's why we have high gun violence in our country today. The vast majority of the murders on our streets by guns are directly related to drug prohibition.
EVANS: That's what I'm talking about naive --
MORGAN: Mr. Evans, I have to -- Mr. Evans, you had plenty of time (INAUDIBLE), I have to leave it there.
EVANS: All right. Thank you.
MORGAN: The poll we have earlier, the Pew poll. Marijuana, 48 percent of Americans said they have tried pot in their lifetime and should marijuana be made legal, yes, 52 percent, no, 45 percent.
Neill Franklin, David Evans, thank you both very much indeed.
EVANS: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Is marijuana addictive and dangerous? Are the marijuana moms we saw earlier helping or harming their families by using cannabis? A lot of questions and we'll get some answers from Dr. Sanjay Gupta and other experts coming up after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN: I don't know how I feel about legalized pot smoking because of the differences that alcohol is something that's consumed as part of cuisine, you know, you have wine in particular, and you can drink alcohol ask say I had enough and I don't think I want to drink anymore because I got to drink. Drugs are consumed for the purpose of being mind-altering substances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's that, mommy? This is a joint. It's made of marijuana. Mari what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My turn. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Mommy will see you in a few minutes. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Taking a hit, that's January Thomas, one of the marijuana moms I spoke to earlier. They say it makes them better parents but can it and what are the medical facts of weed now?
With me now is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's working on a documentary about marijuana. And addiction expert and psychologist Howard Samuels, the founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center.
Welcome to both you.
Sanjay, let me start with you. Pretty apocalyptic the statements by one of my last guests, what is your reaction to what he was saying? The very dark, gloomy picture he was painting?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, let me say we have been working on this documentary for about a year now and sort of walk into it pretty eyes wide open, Piers.
You know, as a neuroscientists I wanted to learn about this. There was so much he was saying that simply wasn't true. First of all, his comparison to alcohol and prescription medications and saying this was far worse, it's just not true.
It -- depending how you define far worse, it is, you know, there is people who overdose on these prescription medications every 19 minutes in this country, every 19 minutes somebody dies of a prescription drug overdose. It doesn't happen with marijuana.
It's classified in this country as a Schedule 1 substance and he conceded it has no medical benefit whatever. That's not true. We know that there's medical benefits. I've seen the studies with my eyes here in the United States and around the world.
And then, finally, this idea of high, abusive or addictive potential, it can be addictive but compared to other things, it's about 9 percent roughly of people might become addicted, more psychologically dependent on marijuana, compared to 15 percent, 16 percent for alcohol, 23 percent for LSD or heroin. So, it's just a -- a lot of it just a smack of a lot of propaganda, Piers.
MORGAN: The thing you gleamed in the making of the documentary over the last year, as you say, a very intensive study you've done on this. Is there any logical scientific backed reason why if tobacco and alcohol are legalized, marijuana should not be legalized?
GUPTA: I can't find that. There is a fair amount of hypocrisy when it comes to marijuana. And it's dated back to 75, 80 years now in this country. And again, as you pointed, we've been researching this and looking at this. I mean, you can pick just about any metric you want, you talk about comparisons between alcohol and marijuana. And keeping the discussion about adults now, you know, people whose brains are fully formed, the long-term impact of alcohol versus marijuana much, worse with alcohol. The overall impact on your body in terms of developing liver disease, cirrhosis, cardiac disease, much more with alcohol. It's the addictive potential as I mentioned earlier.
The hypocrisy is quite stunning, I think, Piers, when you start to look a little below the surface.
MORGAN: Let me bring in Howard Samuels now. Obviously, you run a big treatment center and you're a psychologist. So you deal with the sharp end of people who have serious problems. What is your view of this whole debate?
HOWARD SAMUELS, HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Well, without question I think legalizing marijuana would be a huge mistake, OK? I treat a lot of people that come in very addicted to marijuana, have smoked it every day for years. I see anxiety disorders. I see panic attacks. I see huge inability to deal with feelings in a healthy way.
You know, the young adults today, to learn how to deal with feelings, you need to learn how to express anger, hurt feelings and when you medicate and numb them with marijuana, you push all those feelings down.
MORGAN: Here is what I would say to you, is that is also true of numerous prescription drugs.
SAMUELS: Without question.
MORGAN: So --
SAMUELS: And I'm against those, also.
I mean, this country needs and wants to get loaded. This is what this whole debate is about. What are we doing?
MORGAN: This country is already seriously medicated. Sanjay did a brilliant documentary about the medication of America, which I found startling.
MORGAN: And you go to the stores and see it racked up.
SAMUELS: This is where the problem is.
MORGAN: Big business.
SAMUELS: Everybody wants to check out in this country, whether it's marijuana, whether it's alcohol, whether it's prescription. That's what this alcohol fight is about.
What are we doing? I mean, what do I tell my 12-year-old who says to me, hey, dad, I thought marijuana was bad for you and they are talking about legalizing it?
MORGAN: Let me go to Sanjay.
Sanjay, what is your reaction to how Samuel says there?
GUPTA: Look, he's taking a very safe path here. I'm against all of it is especially what he's saying it.
Look, I'm not love -- I have young children. I'm not in love with the idea of a parent being high on marijuana when they are taking care of a small child, as I'm not excited about them being drunk or taking a lot of pain pills. I agree with that part of it.
I would ask the doctor -- I mean, marijuana is a schedule 1 substance in this country, put it in the same category as something like LSD. Give you a frame of reference, cocaine is a Schedule 2 substance. Do you think it should be a schedule one substance?
MORGAN: See, to that to me sounds absolutely ridiculous.
SAMUELS: That is ridiculous. There should be no way that people should be going to prison for marijuana or heroin or cocaine. We need to have treatment centers to we can treat the addiction and decriminalize the drugs. There's no question about that.
MORGAN: So you would decriminalize all drugs?
SAMUELS: No, I would have to make them legal. Am I going to tell my children is marijuana and heroin is as safe as an aspirin?
MORGAN: So you would fine people but you wouldn't imprison them.
MORGAN: Sanjay, I don't know if you touched at all, Sanjay, your documentary, but in terms of the way America is now trying to legislate this, what do you think is the most sensible course of action?
GUPTA: It's extraordinary, Piers, if you think about it. We've never really had a medication sense, that's essentially been approved by the voters. Typically this goes to the FDA. There is a process of clinical trials.
In this case, it's been voted on at the state level. This is relatively new phenomenon. For 3,000 years, marijuana was a legitimate medication in the formularies. The legitimate medical formularies in the United States and many other countries around the world. I've traveled all over the world for this documentary, Piers. I'll tell you, in Israel, in Jerusalem, I've met with the father of THC, the guy who first isolated it, and I was in Jerusalem when you see patients who are vaporizing marijuana in the hallways. This isn't some fringe radical culture. They are doing it because they believe not only does it worked, but it also provide the benefit that other medications cannot, and they can do it more safely this way.
So, you know, if I sound a little bit up in arms of it, I find it irresponsible that we've been denying people effective potentially medications here for so long and I cannot understand the reason why.
MORGAN: OK. Final word to you, Howard Samuels.
SAMUELS: OK. I think those medications are for pain and health, not emotional issues. There is no question that marijuana and all these drugs create serious emotional issues in young people, and that is my greatest --
MORGAN: OK, let me ask you one point about that, Sanjay. This thing about the age people take marijuana. Is there scientific research that supports the theory, if you're under 25, it could have more effect on you emotionally, psychologically if you're under 25?
GUPTA: The most definitive data has revolved around two areas. And I've looked at the studies on this, as well, like the doctor has. But one was cognitive and there's a study that's looking at IQ. And it wasn't a great study, but it was a study that looked specifically at kids who started earlier on in life and 25 is a good number that they picked because that's -- the brain is more fully developed and had on average eight 1Q points lower by the time that they were 38.
The other one resolved around psychological addiction, a type of dependence and they found that one in six children who smoked marijuana before the age of 25 were likely to become either dependent or addicted. Those are the studies I found.
Regarding emotional dependence and some of the other things the doctor is citing, I haven't seen those studies. You obviously have your own anecdotal experience. But, you know, the moral equivalence, Piers, that you've done a brilliant job of sort of creating here, how is it compared to other things they are exposed to --
MORGAN: Right, see, that to me -- right, that to me is the key to the debate. If it in the end doesn't have a worse effect than tobacco or alcohol, the argument against legalization to me falls apart and that's where I think some of the states are coming from.
SAMUELS: No, and I totally understand that but what is our response? That we keep on making drugs legal that really have a tremendous amount of benefit? Aren't we being irresponsible to our children to set them up to have another thing out there to get more dysfunctional and have more problems emotionally?
MORGAN: Well --
SAMUELS: Don't we have a responsibility? MORGAN: I think we do a responsibility. And I think -- I'm looking forward to seeing Sanjay's documentary on weed that will air this August on CNN.
Sanjay Gupta, Howard Samuels, thank you both very much.
SAMUELS: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming next is "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier. He's taking on the war on drugs as well. He has something to say about marijuana and the fight over it. He's made a documentary about it and he joins me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KID ROCK: Tax the hell up (ph). I know lots of people that smoke lots of pot. They don't get a lot done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hook you up, fellas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing here? Are we talking about the script or weed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe both. Maybe both.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I'm going to have to lie at my N.A. meeting. Again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: From HBO's "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier. He's also the producer of the documentary called, "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." And Adrian joins me now.
Welcome to you.
ADRIAN GRENIER, ACTOR: Thank you.
MORGAN: We had a whole debate on this show tonight about drugs and pot in particular. You've made this documentary, "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." It kind of exposes the journey that drug dealers go on, how they get into, how they make money out of it and so on. What are the key conclusions that you personally have drawn about the marijuana debate?
GRENIER: Well, that we're going about it all wrong. I think We need to stop throwing people in jail. Stop using SWAT teams and military action in our neighborhoods to find them and throw them in jail for long periods of time. MORGAN: I mean, 853,000 arrests for marijuana violations in 2010, 750,000 people arrested for possession. One person arrested every 19 seconds.
GRENIER: Well, I mean, not to mention that those arrests are disproportionately targeting minorities and people in poor neighborhoods. So that's all -- I mean, the weakest members of our society are being targeted. We should be helping them, not targeting them.
MORGAN: Having said all this, what we don't want to do is encourage the use of America to think that all drugs are fine. How do you tackle the easing of legislation perhaps with marijuana with the harder stuff?
GRENIER: I think we need to educate the youth of America. I mean, the film "How to Make Money Selling Drugs" is targeted to kids. We want young people to see this movie. That's why it's spoken so plainly. Young people are on the Internet. They see a lot. But what they don't have are adults talking to them straight, telling them how it is so they can make educated choices about what to do in the right circumstances and what not to do.
MORGAN: Let's take a little clip from the movie, "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." This is one of the young drug dealers that is interviewed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninth grade, up to that point, I was a student that didn't participate. But then they were like, how many grams were in an ounce? I was like, 28. How many pounds are in a kilo? I was like 2.2? And do you want me to tell you how much that costs? And everybody at school knew what I was up to that day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: You know, it's probably a very, very similar pattern that so many of these drug dealers. They're not necessarily as you rightly say the most evil people on earth. They stumble into these things.
GRENIER: Yes, they're working under the circumstances that they're working under. But the truth is, all these guys are great human beings, and they went down the wrong path. I'm not saying you should become a drug dealer or do drugs, absolutely not.
It's typically a bad choice if you have a problem with it. The problem is a lot of money isn't put into programs to educate first and foremost. And then to help people who stray.
MORGAN: Tell us some of the biggest problems? I have three teenage sons. I think one of the big problems in communication is that they see these old politicians, you know, in their stuffy suits saying how evil it all is and how awful it is and how you're going the hate yourself and hate doing it. Of course, the reason so many young people do take drugs is that most of them enjoy it. That's part of the problem. You have to tackle that reality check, I think, with young people.
GRENIER: You're not going to dictate your child's behavior every moment. So the idea is, you have to create responsible adults.
And the only way to do that is to give them the information and let them make their way and figure it out for themselves. So that when they're on their own they can decide I'm not going to partake, it's not responsible. Or, you know, this is something I should avoid.
MORGAN: When Willie Nelson came on here recently, he had mentioned he had partaken of a joint the same morning before he came in my show. I have to ask you the same question, Adrian.
GRENIER: I think one of the luxuries of having Obama admitting to smoking pot, we can all admit it now, right? Can we?
MORGAN: After you.
GRENIER: I mean, of course I have.
MORGAN: This morning?
GRENIER: Only on set.
MORGAN: Adrian Grenier, it's an important film.
GRENIER: It's a cinematic fun, exciting fun in the language of pop culture.
MORGAN: And I can't let you go without asking you about the "Entourage" movie, because as a devotee of "Entourage," I'm waiting on tenterhooks. Is it going to happen?
MORGAN: Is that a definite?
GRENIER: Look, if it doesn't, I will pack my bags and move and you'll never see me again.
MORGAN: I should be confident?
MORGAN: Adrian Grenier, the movie "How to Make Money Selling Drugs" is now available on iTunes on demand. It will begin (INAUDIBLE) on June 26th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE NELSON: This seems ridiculous, I think, and have thought for years. All the illegal drug dealers make all the money and the gun buyers trading guns for dope and getting people killed all over the border down there, when it's a simple thing to legalize it, tax it, regulate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHAD PREGRACKE, DEFENDING THE PLANET: Sixty-seven thousand tires, 951 refrigerators, 233 stoves, it's crazy what you find in the rivers. I grew up right on the Mississippi River. Around the age of 17, I really started to focus on the problem.
Eighteen million people get their daily drinking water from the river. I'm thinking this should not be like this. This stuff just collects here and it goes on for blocks like this. It's a bad deal.
I said you know what? If no one's going to do anything about it, I will.
I'm Chad Pregracke, with the help of over 70,000 volunteers we've removed over seven million pounds of garbage over America's rivers.
Are you guys ready?
PREGRACKE: Our primary focus is the Mississippi River.
You guys will be amazed in two hours of how much stuff we get.
In all, we worked on 22 rivers in 18 states. We do everything in our power to get people excited about it. At the end of the day you're out there picking up garbage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this a basketball?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally yours. Little by little we're getting it.
PREGRACKE: But you're having fun, they'll have fun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew I was going to be sweating but I didn't think I'd be singing karaoke on a boat.
PREGRACKE: People want to see change and are stepping up to make change.
That was the last bag, come on, let's give it up, yes!
This is a problem that people created, but a problem that people can fix.