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Legal Marijuana Becoming Big, Profitable Business in Colorado; Has the U.S. Gone to Pot; Was Paul Walker's Car Too Fast, Too Furious?

Aired December 2, 2013 - 23:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And America going to pot. Almost 40 percent of you admit to smoking marijuana at least once. And I'll bet that percentage is even higher -- pun intended. Colorado is about to let everybody get high. Should you?

So you heard it hear first, the war on drugs is over. Come January, the white flag goes up in smoke in Colorado. Anyone can legally smoke pot just for fun. We're not talking medical marijuana here. It's about to become a very big very and profitable business. And Colorado is just the beginning.

Watch this story now by CNN's Miguel Marquez.


ANDY WILLIAMS, OWNER, MEDICINE MAN: This is our vegetative growth room.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andy Williams is out to be the captain of the country's newest growth industry, Colorado's legal recreational pot business.

(on camera): It is a factory of pot?

WILLIAMS: Is it a factory of pot. It certainly is.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): His Medicine Man will be selling to users up to an ounce for Colorado residents, a quarter-ounce for out-of-staters. Anyone over 21 can buy starting January 1.

Industry watchers say it will be the first time ever anywhere in the world that marijuana has been regulated from seed to sale, an experiment making Colorado a sort of Silicon Valley for pot.

(on camera): It appears that you guys are already bulking up --


MARQUEZ: -- in preparation for what happens January 1.

WILLIAMS: Every one of my competitors is going the same thing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And how much news business does Medicine Man expect? (voice-over): This is the future?

WILLIAMS: This is the future of Medicine Man.

MARQUEZ: This is --

WILLIAMS: This is it.

MARQUEZ: Oh, my.

(voice-over): Planned is a state-of-the-art facility so advanced they are expecting tourists.

WILLIAMS: This is not enough to meet demand next year. We need to expand more.

MARQUEZ: He'd like to triple his supply. And he's not the only one.

(on camera): This is the new world? What is this?

TODD MITCHEM, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OPEN VAPE: This is the -- sort of the future.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It's an industry expected to grow from just over $1 billion today to over $10 billion by 2018. Companies here sinking millions figuring out how to consume pot in new ways.

Open Vape extracts oil from marijuana and sells a sort of e-cigarette, giving the user an exact dose and producing almost no smoke.

MITCHEM: We grew 1600 percent in 2013.

MARQUEZ (on camera): 1600 percent?

MITCHEM: 1600 percent. We'll do another 600 percent in revenue growth next year.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Open Vape expects to double its work force in 2014. Its brand spanking-new offices taking a page nor from the dot- com boom.

MITCHEM: You know, there are a lot of stereotypes. You think it is guys smoking pot in the offices. It's not like that. This is a real business. I mean, we are building a culture of excellence around cannabis.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Taxes on sales of recreational marijuana products, everything from the smokable stuff to chocolates and soda, expected to generate tens of millions of revenue for the state. It's already creating jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anybody here with an appointment?

MARQUEZ: Every morning, Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division, jammed hope with people trying to get a license to work in the new industry. The agency is overwhelmed with applications.

Every aspect regulated. Possession of an ounce or less, legal anywhere within the state's borders. Most places, though, all those counties you see there in red, still either ban or haven't yet decided if they'll allow pot sales. For many here, it is still baby steps.

LEWIS KOSKI, CHIEF OF INVESTIGATIONS, COLORADO MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT DIVISION: What we are hoping is that we can provide a model for, that for other states as they elect to move forward with their own marijuana policy.

MARQUEZ: The Colorado experiment taking root. The "Denver Post" has hired a recreational marijuana editor. And Matt Brown, who runs My 420 Tours says non-Coloradans are excited to experience the new Rocky Mountain high.

MATT BROWN, MY 420 TOURS: We anticipate just through out firm easily 2,000 to 3,000 people next year on our guided tours, with all inclusive multi-day packages.

MARQUEZ: Even cannabis cooking classes. Chef Blaine Alexander, who teaches some classes today, sees more.

(on camera): Can you see a restaurant, Blaine's?

BLAINE ALEXANDER, CHEF: Alexander's? But, yes.

MARQUEZ: Alexander's, all right, fine.

ALEXANDER: Of course. I would love that. Yeah. I mean, that has always been my goal.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A goal that here in Colorado could soon be reality.


LEMON: This is a show for adults, and CNN knows that they never know what is coming out of my mouth. That's why they put me on at 11:00. I will be honest here. I know plenty of people who smoke pot. I'm not unfamiliar with it myself. A lot of you, not all of you, may say the same.

Now, I want to bring in CNN's Miguel Marquez, one of the men with the best assignments in the business.


I'm wondering if he got high. I'll ask him later.

Ricardo Baca is the "Denver Post's" new pot editor. That's right, new pot editor. We're going to talk about that.

So, listen, Miguel, did you get high?

MARQUEZ: I did not get high in Colorado, except for the clean Rocky Mountain sort.

LEMON: Yeah. But it's not a big secret. You have?

MARQUEZ: Yes, I have smoked pot many times in the past.

LEMON: Yeah, we're just being honest here.

MARQUEZ: But the issue for myself has always been control, that I never now how it's going to hit me. So I don't -- I haven't smoked it in years because I don't like it. That's what is going to change in Colorado. They are working on -- I was blown away.

LEMON: Are they worried that people are going to run to California come January 1st to get high? Are they bracing for that?

MARQUEZ: Colorado will have some idea of this as well, but I think that there is going to be a very big party in Colorado come January 1st. It's not clear that, on that day, people will be able to buy in these stores because it's a very regulated licenses regime they have to go to through to get those -- to start selling recreationally. But my guess is there will be some of that going on January 1st.

LEMON: Ricardo, let's talk more about this. You are a pot editor, and I think that's a first.


LEMON: What does that mean?

BACA: Well, you know, I'm overseeing all our marijuana coverage here. We already have the biggest staff covering this issue, bigger than anybody else certainly in the state. Since we are the first, we want to continue to amp up that news coverage and add entertainment features, criticism, and just make sure we are the source that everybody comes to for that news.

LEMON: Yeah. I want to make sure -- listen, we're not being proponents of marijuana. I just think that the genie is out of the bottle and Colorado is leading the charge here. But there are some unknowns here. And I'm sure, as part of your job as an editor, you will be reporting on that.

BACA: There are a lot of unknowns. Come January 1st, we have no idea what's going to happen. But we do find it very exciting to be here in this position. I promise you, we will have many reporters on the ground in Denver --


-- Aspen, southern Colorado, western Colorado, the places that you'd expect. I, myself, might spend New Year's Eve with the Wu Tang (ph) clan right here in Denver --


-- just, you know -- I'll have my eyes on the prize. I will take that assignment happily.


LEMON: So you have -- you are no stranger to pot either, right? You don't smoke it, you say --


Exactly. I eat it.

LEMON: You --

BACA: Edibles are the only way that I can really consume it. So, yeah, but I enjoy it.

LEMON: Yeah. Edibles are huge, right?

BACA: Edibles are going to be huge.

LEMON: But you don't know how it's going to affect you. You smoke and you know it will be over in an hour. But --


LEMON: -- edibles.

MARQUEZ: The difficult bit about this that will take education is that people don't realize, if you had a brownie, it takes longer than if you were smoking it to kick in. So people end up eating more and more and then they are completely plastered.


LEMON: Yeah. I just understand that there is going be a pot critic, like there's a wine critic and a food critic, and has that job already been filled?

BACA: You know, it hasn't. I'm still taking resumes.


People can fiend my e-mail address online. And so far, I've receive probably about 30, 30 to 40.



BACA: I'm looking for a local to Colorado. Local to Colorado pot critic is what we're looking for. And I hope I do receive a lot more.

LEMON: You will get a lot more out of this.

Thank you very much, Ricardo Baca.

And thank you very much, Miguel. MARQUEZ: Thank you.

LEMON: nice to see you.

BACA: Thank you.

LEMON: In a minute, not everybody's down with the Rocky Mountain high but we're going to debate next.

Plus, the death of the "Fast and Furious" star. Investigators say they've ruled out drag racing but what really caused the crash that killed Paul Walker?


LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. It's THE 11TH HOUR. Thank you for reaching out to us on social media, at donlemonCNN@the11thhour. We really appreciate it.

America has gone from a president who told us he did not inhale to one who, by his own admission, used pot, and as he put it, a little blow as a student. So has this country gone to pot?

Joining me is Howard Samuels, of The Hills Treatment Center; Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, of Phoenix House; Ethan Needleman, of the Drug Policy Alliance; and Neill Franklin, with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

So, I want to start with you -- let's start with Ethan.

Ethan, across the country, do you think that everyone's going to follow suit with Colorado? And that's a good idea?

ETHAN NEEDLEMAN, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: Well, Don, it's going to take a while. Look to Oregon to go next, maybe Alaska. We'll see if California goes in 2014 or 2015. The big news actually is going to be outside the country, next week, where Uruguay, in South America, will be the first country to legalize marijuana, and follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington. But when we see a Gallop Poll showing 58 percent of Americans say they are in favor of legally regulating marijuana like alcohol, and when that support is coming from people who don't use marijuana and don't' like marijuana and actually worry about their kids like anybody else, I think it's just a matter of time before we see marijuana become legally regulated across the country and in many parts of the world.

LEMON: Neill, do you think that -- do agree with Ethan, that it will be legalized? I think many people think in 10 or 15 years many states will be similar to Colorado, especially with the support we are seeing with the recent polls?

NEILL FRANKLIN, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION & RETIRED STATE POLICE MAJOR: Yeah, I agree with Ethan, 100 percent. Not just in states where you have a voter referendum but in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, where the legislators have to move the policy. We're seeing a sea change. We are seeing policymakers finally realizing that, you know what, it's a safe place now. It's a safe place to talk about regulation and control, tax and regulating marijuana. So we're going to see it across the country and we'll see it move across the globe, where it needs to be.

LEMON: People may be surprised because you are an executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and you're a retired state police major.


LEMON: A retired state police major saying this. Why are you saying this as a former cop?

FRANKLIN: First of all, I spent most of my career in either drug enforcement or criminal enforcement and most of that time commanding multijurisdictional drug task forces. And I have seen the harms. I've seen the violence that it has caused from this underground market place. I mean, if you want marijuana available to kids and you want to line the pockets of drug dealers, this is the perfect policy in which to do this. Look, drug dealers hire children to sell drugs to other children, and they do it within our schools, within the hallways, within the classrooms. You know what, adults cannot do that. If you want to get marijuana into our schools, this is the perfect policy for it. Drug dealers don't care.

LEMON: Howard Samuels, the CEO and founder of The Hills Treatment Center, do you think this is going to keep kids safer if it is legalized or regulated across the country?

HOWARD SAMUELS, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: I got to tell you, Don, I'm sick to my stomach after watching that video. And this is a real emotional issue for me. And I'll tell you why. I've worked with addicts for the last over 20 years. I have had to deal with marijuana addicts and their dysfunction and many years of their lives totally ruined because of smoking weed on a daily basis. In fact, myself, I started smoking weed at 15 and became addicted to marijuana. And after that wore off, I went to cocaine and heroin. Now, I'm sober 29 years now. I think that this is an absolute sickening idea that is happening in Colorado and Oregon. I think it's about money and big tobacco.

And I want to ask Ethan a serious question, OK? What's he going to do to try to help people who are addicted with all the millions of dollars that organization has in order to get their organization through this initiative? Are they going to build treatment centers? Are they going to help the addicted --


LEMON: Go ahead, Ethan.


LEMON: Go ahead.

NEEDLEMAN: I think, Howard, you are living evidence that marijuana prohibition has failed, that it did nothing to keep half of all the young people in America from using marijuana, 100 million people from using it. I mean, the evidence of the failure of marijuana is overwhelming. The bottom line is, are we going to treat marijuana as a health issue or a criminal issue. For you working in treatment, one would think the answer should be: Let's treat it as health issue. We've proven the failure of the war on marijuana. There is no question about that anymore. Meanwhile, why should we be locking young people up? Why should we be arresting tons of young people, mostly young people --


SAMUELS: We don't lock young people up for marijuana --


NEEDLEMAN: The fact of the matter they are getting arrested --


LEMON: -- Howard finish.

Ethan, go ahead.

NEEDLEMAN: Half the arrests in this country are from marijuana, Howard. People are getting criminal records. And I'll tell you this, if there is a ballot initiative in California coming up soon, you can be assured that some of the money, the tax revenue that goes there, will go to schools, education, and it will also go to drug treatment, which is more than the war on drugs is producing for marijuana --


LEMON: OK, Ethan, Howard, stand by, because Mitch is sitting here in the top right corner and he is not looking happy about this.

Especially because you are a child psychiatrist and, as I said, the founder of the Phoenix House and a child psychiatrist.

What this does to adolescent brains, the damage you say it does to young people, do you think by regulating it and making it legal that is a bad thing for -- will this keep it out of the hands of young people?

MITCH ROSENTHAL, CHILD PSYCHIATRIST & FOUNDER, PHOENIX HOUSE: It won't keep it out of the hands of young people. We'll have lots of it that goes to them and they will use it and it will hurt them. They will fail in school. 10 percent of them will become marijuana dependent. And as Howard was saying, many of them will go on to other drugs.

You know, for 50 years, I've been dealing with people who've had problems with marijuana. It's very serious when you see them. I don't think people in Colorado are going to be smiling and laughing and having big parties in two years. I think, in some ways, it's useful that they are doing this big experiment. Not everybody in Colorado is happy about it. Many parents feel that there shouldn't be any advertising. That there -- there has to be a real cap and a real control on sale to minors. But there won't be. There will be a black market for minors. And I think we will still have, as Neill was saying, we'll still have kids selling to kids. We'll still have, as we found at Phoenix House when we did a survey a couple years ago, that family members will be sharing their pot, just as people now who are getting medical marijuana are sharing their pot. We will see --


ROSENTHAL: Wait one second, Don. We will see a three-fold increase in marijuana use and it -- the fallout from that is going to be tremendous.

LEMON: OK. So, Mitch, we'll see what happens next in Colorado. But I preface -- I want to say to you guys, what is the difference. Families are sharing alcohol with each other. Alcohol is legal. Alcohol, by many estimates, and if you look at the studies, is more damaging than marijuana, if you look at any recent study --


ROSENTHAL: Well, alcohol is a very serious drug. It's also a very serious --


LEMON: But, yet, it's legal, Mitch.

ROSENTHAL: Wait. But that doesn't mean we should introduce another legal powerful drug --


ROSENTHAL: -- and the --


ROSENTHAL: Wait a second. Wait a second.

LEMON: Ethan --


LEMON: Well, listen, guys --


LEMON: Listen, thank you. I'm sorry we have to go. We have gone on a little bit longer than I wanted to go on here. Well, my producers at least, so I'm sorry. We have only an allotted amount of time.

Thank you very much. We'll have you back on. This discussion will continue.

In the meantime, again, very much thanks to all of you. The "Fast & Furious" crash that killed Paul Walker, what really happened? A closer look at the dream car that turned deadly.


LEMON: We want to get now to the very latest in the "Fast and Furious" crash that took the life of actor, Paul Walker. Investigators haven't found any evidence of a second car involved in the accident so they're ruling out drag racing. They're looking at speed at a chief factor.

The 2005 Porsche Carrera G.T. is fast, really fast. And as CNN's Martin Savidge found out, it can be hard to handle, even for a pro.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Walker died in a car most of us could only dream of, a Porsche Carrera G.T., an exotic two-seat with three times the horsepower of the average car, capable of going over 200 miles per hour.

Price tag? $450,000.

Exotic car mechanic, Todd Trimble, has just finished some routine maintenance on the Carrera G.T. in Las Vegas. He says, by the way, an oil change costs $900.

TODD TRIMBLE, EXOTIC CAR MECHANIC: It's a mid-engine car. You can see the full carbon-fiber construction of it.

SAVIDGE: Porsche only made around 1300 Carrera G.T.s, and to hear Trimble tell it, they're disappearing fast.

TRIMBLE: They're getting rarer and rarer. Most of the time, when they do get wrecked, there's not much left of them. So the rumor has it there's 25 percent already gone.

SAVIDGE: I have no way of verifying that. But Trimble does say there were 15 Carrera G.T.s in Las Vegas. Not there are only six.

TRIMBLE: Very hard car to drive. It's pure racer's car. You really need to know what you're doing when you drive them. And a lot of people are learning the hard way.


SAVIDGE: Race car driver, Randy Pobst, has driven a Carrera G.T. He also taught the actors in the second "Fast and Furious" movie, including Paul Walker.

POBST: Worked with all the stars of the film, Paul and Tyrese Gibson and Devon Aoki and --

SAVIDGE (on camera): Let me ask you, honestly, how was Paul?

POBST: Paul was, by far, the best driver. A natural car guy. SAVIDGE (voice-over): As for the car, Pobst says driving an exotic like the Carrera G.T. for an experienced drive offers a thrill few vehicles can match.

POBST: I love the power. 612 horsepower. And the higher you rev the engine, the stronger it pulls. It's just -- it's a great feeling. You feel it right in the chest, pushing you back.

SAVIDGE: But the car isn't forgiving of mistakes. Lacking the features common on many conventional cars today, electronic stability control.

POBST: Stability control is really good at correcting slides, keeping the car from getting out of shape.

SAVIDGE: Everyone I spoke to who drives or works on the car told me pretty much the same thing: In the right hands, it's a great car.

POBST: But a car like the Carrera G.T. needs to be driven with great respect because it has so much power and capability.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: All right, Martin, thank you very much for that.

My next guest knows everything there is to know about the Porsche Carrera G.T., a car he says is one of the most challenging cars to drive.

Matt Hardigree is the editor-in-chief of Jalopnik, for those obsessed with the cult of cars.

You spoke with Paul Walker about his love for speed and his love for cars. What did he say to you?

MATT HARDIGREE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JALOPNIK: You know, it was a great conversation. When you talk to celebrities, often they want to talk about their next project or their next film. And we were on the set of "Fast and Furious" and actually all he wanted to talk about was cars. And it wasn't just new cars we talked about, you know, Safari wagons and this Toyota truck that he was working on, and it was clear that he was a real car enthusiast.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I want to know more about this Porsche G.T. I'm not a car person. The only car I really like if the Porsche Carrera. That's the only car I really like. As a matter of fact, I own one. It's really fast. How much faster is this car and how hard is it to handle?

HARDIGREE: Compared -- depending on which Porsche you have, it can have as much as 50 percent more horsepower. To put it in terms that a regular person could understand, thing of a Ford Fiesta small car, a Porsche Carrera G.T. weighs about as much, but it has about four to five times as much power. That's extremely difficult to handle. Like Randy Pobst, the great race car driver, said in the report. It rewards you if you know what you're doing but, if you make a mistake, it's that much more dangerous.

LEMON: Yes, we could see here. And it looks like someone couldn't handle the car properly or there was some error. But chances are, you think that people are learning the hard way with this car?

HARDIGREE: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when you get in a car like this -- and I haven't driven this car but I've driven screen cars, like the Viper. What happens is the limits are great, so as you get closer to the limit, the amount of room that you have when you make a mistake is much shorter. And this car, apparently, had just been purchased. It was one of the first times they had gone out and driven it. So the driver of the car was obviously an experienced driver, had raced before, but even someone who knows a lot about car can find themselves with a new car, an experience they're not used to on a road that even maybe they know, and just catch themselves catching that limit and then they're unfortunately close to a telephone pole and a tree, which is what happened here.

LEMON: Matt Hardigree, the editor-in-chief of Thank you very much. We appreciate you.

And thank you so much for watching. I really appreciate it.

Tomorrow night, on THE 11TH HOUR, the truth about the knockout game that a lot of people fear is sweeping the country. And what the NFL is doing about head injuries and kids.

That's it for us tonight.

Brooke Baldwin and, "IN CASE YOU MISSED IT," starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Brooke Baldwin. And welcome to first night of my new program. It's called ICYMI. And our mission in the next 30 minutes is to comb through every single story CNN has been covering all day all over the world, to bring you the very best moments of what we do. Those moments when the meaning of a story suddenly becomes clear. And they only have been a few times each and every day. They're the reason we do what we do.

Like the one picture, so powerful. Out of all of our dozens of video feeds in which the image itself tells --