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Piers Morgan Live

Is Legal Pot Good for the U.S.?; Temperatures Plummeting; Praying for a Miracle

Aired January 06, 2014 - 21:00   ET



PIERS MORGAN, PIERS MORGAN LIVE HOST: OK. This is Piers Morgan Live. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Tonight, bad news America. Colorado is running out of pot already. Apparently, that newly legal rocky mountain high is such a massive success, they all literally running out of stuff. But is legal pot good for the country? On both sides battle it out tonight in a smoking hot debate.

And speaking of hot, baby, its cold outside very, very cold. Temperature is plummeting across the country in Minnesota. The wind chill taking temperatures down to 60 below and record lows in places like Chicago too, cold enough to freeze your skin in under five minutes. What you need to need to know about the polar vortex.

Plus, a life and death battle of family desperately praying for a miracle for 13-year-old Jahi McMath whose been declared brain dead. I'll talk to her uncle live and exclusive.

And the American Dream, two brothers, amazing story this was taking their dreams of a better life on school and reporter who is so touched by their stories has been helping them personally.

I want to begin though with our Big Story which is of course the big pot luck in Colorado. Legal marijuana is more popular than other people expect it. Joining me now, an expert in the air of pot, Ricardo Baca is Editor for The Cannabist and marijuana editor for The Denver Post. Welcome to you, sir.


MORGAN: This must be a start of great week for you isn't it? This is like the culmination of a lifetime's work.

BACA: You know, as a journalist, it's been a phenomenal week. This story is the one that keeps giving and certainly we've been waiting for January 1st and to witness it firsthand and be inside the newsroom and be all around the city with all the pot shops opening up and lines of hundreds of people, people waiting three, four, five hours. It's a great story. We're thrilled to be covering it. MORGAN: We believe an estimated $1 million in marijuana was sold on January the 1st alone in Colorado. Any sense on where we are after one week in terms of the takings?

BACA: You know, things are certainly moving forward. As you've mentioned, some shops are reporting very low inventory. Other shops are certainly raising their per eighth, their per gram amount that they're charging and we're even seeing some of the shops double their prices for out of state visitors.

MORGAN: The latest poll of CNN/ORC poll of January 3rd to the 5th says that 55 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, 44 percent against.

In terms of the age rate and perhaps predicatively the younger generation 18 to 34, 67 percent in favor, 34 to 49, 64 percent and this starts to fall off 50 to 64 years old, 50 percent and 65 older, 29 percent. A real surprise there, I guess. Except that the momentum clearly is behind legalizing this drug in America. How long do you think before states like California where we are, right now here follow the lead on places like Colorado.

BACA: Well, I think we're going to start seeing some ballot initiatives in 2016 and we're going to have a much clearer idea of what that picture looks like. But, you know, we're certainly hearing things about Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois, the tide is certainly moving forward and, you know, for the pro-marijuana movement, this is certainly what they call progress.

MORGAN: Ricardo Baca, thank you very much indeed.

So, this is the tipping point for pot in America. Well, joining me out to debate this, we'll be debating a long time but now it's for real. Phoenix House Founder Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Retired State Police Major Ethan Nadelmann, he's a Founder and Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance and Howard Samuels, CEO and Founder of The Hills Treatment Center.

Welcome to you. A stellar panel of experts here. Let me start with you Howard Samuels. Is this a force for good or a forceful continued concern as America moves now to legalizing marijuana?

HOWARD SAMUELS, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: It's disastrous. I mean, what we're looking at is mass production of marijuana, OK? And that's sort of the issue is that here we are we're going to be producing on a mass level, addiction rates are going to rise. One out of five, one of six people are addicted. So, and I was a victim of marijuana. Now I was addicted for years of America, now that took me to heroine, OK?

So, I love how people are so happy about this, about now, everyone can get loaded for, you know, legally. I just think that what we're looking at is a real issue. And there is a disconnect about America because I think that it's not about reform madness like it was years ago, how you took one hit of pot and you ended up like murdering a family which is ridiculous, OK? You don't die from marijuana, yet it is not safe and it is not harmless.

MORGAN: Well, you say that, but let me, I remember, Sanjay Gupta seen as imminent doctor doing a whole show about this and some of the findings were pretty clear. There is no evidence. For example, that anyone is overdosed on marijuana. For one -- let me finish.


MORGAN: For one. Secondly, he said that with the exception of younger minds where he said that there could be a possible risk of some kind of damage. Once you get to you mid 20s and over, absolutely no signs to get evidence at all of not only damaging you but being any kind of gateway drug either. And he said, "Look and frankly, we're going to be legalizing cigarettes which was a clear link to cancer or alcohol as we do." What is the difference?

SAMUELS: Well I'll tell you. I'm on the front watch (ph). I deal with addiction daily in the trenches (ph). I deal with marijuana addicts who have had memory issues. They can't regulate their feelings and emotions. They have panic attacks, anxiety attacks, emotionally, it is a disaster, it destroys people's lives. And we've got to have an understanding here.

MORGAN: How many lives, percentage-wise do you think it destroys?

SAMUELS: I think it destroys thousands. OK?

MORGAN: But what are ...

SAMUELS: In my case I mean ...

MORGAN: What are the percentage of people that take it compared to tobacco and alcohol? Again, I mean ...

SAMUELS: Well ...

MORGAN: Well let me turn to Neill Franklin here. Obviously, you've been on the law enforcement side here. Obviously, a pretty damning verdict there from Howard Samuels, from your experience of law enforcement, what do you make of this move today?

NEILL FRANKLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION: And the front lines that I've been on are ones of law enforcement obviously. And from -- well let me put it this way, you've seen the numbers of people standing in lines. I believe you showed it, Piers. Hundreds of people standing in line in Colorado. First of all, I've seen not one child in line, not one. That means the kids aren't buying marijuana from these facilities.

Millions of dollars are not going into the hands of criminal gangs and organizations and the cartel who are operating in Colorado. We're keeping that money from them because when they get that money, when they get the millions of dollars, what do they do with it? They buy guns and they use those guns to manage their business, creates dangerous neighborhoods and dangerous environments for our kids. Something else, as we eliminate the opportunity for these drugs dealers to operate on a street corner selling marijuana, you know what? They no longer hire children to work their business. They no longer hire children to walk the schools and they sit in classrooms in our schools and sell marijuana to kids. Kids have less opportunity to buy marijuana now.

MORGAN: OK. Let me bring in Mitch Rosenthal. You're the founder of Phoenix House. You also, I discovered, you mentored Howard Samuels here years and years ago and helped him with his own addiction issues. So, you've been expert a very long time in this. Clearly, very, very polarizing views about this.

Tell me this, I'm a father of three sons, 13, 16, and 20. They're all going to be exposed if they haven't been already to tobacco, to drugs of some sort, to alcohol and so on. What is the best argument that a parent could use to a child of teenage years perhaps that marijuana is more dangerous to them than alcohol or tobacco.

DR. MITCH ROSENTHAL, FOUNDER, PHOENIX HOUSE: I don't know that marijuana is more dangerous. It is very dangerous though. And we have now only 8 or 9 percent of the American public who use marijuana, 52 percent of the public drinks, 27 percent smokes. And the consequences, the health and social consequences are tremendous. We're going to see, and we've already seen increases in Colorado.

Teens in Colorado have a marijuana use rate 50 percent more than the rest of the country. We're going to see a significant increase in the fallout from legalization in Colorado and in Washington State. This is not benign. If you look at Phoenix Houses all over America, 60 to 70 percent of the kids that are there who's lives have become so out of control that they have to be in a residential setting are there because of marijuana use. It's a serious problem.

MORGAN: OK. Let me turn to Ethan Nadelmann. Again, another expert view. Somebody did a sharpened to this, very different from the law enforcement view, but 60, 70 percent of people in the houses that he has in terms of residency for addicts and so on are marijuana related. That's got to be concerning isn't it?

ETHAN NADELMANN, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: Well you know the fact that 10 percent of all people drink alcohol become alcoholics is not a reason to treat all 100 percent as criminals, right? And what's really going on here is a transformation of what was an illegal industry with 70,000 people getting arrested each year with organized criminals in the US in Mexico and elsewhere were earning billions and billions of dollars with all sorts of people being punished for marijuana use even if it wasn't a problem for most of them.

And what we're moving is to another world where this is going to be legally regulated, there will be problems, I'll agree with Howard and Mitch that there'll be problems with misuse and abuse. But what we need to do is to stop treating this as a criminal issue.

There's no evidence that marijuana prohibition has kept marijuana away from kids. There's overwhelming evidence that has generated vast harms, black markets crime, violence. The evidence about marijuana leading to heroin only a tiny percent is to that, and it's mostly because of the common illegality not because there's something about marijuana that goes that way.

So, Piers, the bottom line is these arguments we're hearing from Howard and Mitch much as I respect the work they do with treating drug addicts, these are now becoming historic arguments. They're not the way of the future. The challenge is how do we responsibly regulate marijuana as a legal product given the failures in the past?

MORGAN: OK, on that very point, are you happy with the steps that Colorado, for example, reporting you have to be 21 or older, you can buy up to an ounce with a license on stores (inaudible) Colorado ID, people from outside Colorado can buy a quarter ounce, users can also share an ounce of cannabis with a friend. There are 40 stores at the moment, Denver has 18 alone, many more done applying. Are you happy with that criteria?

NADELMANN: Yes. I mean, Piers, I'll say, I think Colorado is remarkable. Governor Hickenlooper had opposed this. He's now in favor of doing this the responsible way. Washington states can open up in a few months, Oregon and South America is going to do the same. Each has got slightly different models. There's going to be initiative on the ballot this November in Oregon, possibly one in Alaska, we'll see about California. Each one we're going to tinker with the model. The idea is, how do we legally regulate marijuana ...

SAMUELS: Right. Right. But I got to ...

NADELMANN: ... responsible public healthcare. That's the key.

SAMUELS: All right, here, this is the issue. No question it should not be a criminal issue. I don't think any of us ...

NADELMANN: Thank you. Thank you.

SAMUELS: ... it should not be a criminal issue.

MORGAN: So we have a point of consensus ...

SAMUELS: Absolutely. I agree with you

MORGAN: I think we're looking at hundreds of thousands of Americans.

SAMUELS: Right. Or even getting arrest factor ...

MORGAN: Taking away their job, including that, right?

SAMUELS: ... (inaudible) it should not be arrest record for marijuana, but you don't legalize it and mass produce it, just like the ...

NADELMANN: And a mass ...

SAMUELS: ... alcohol industry and the tobacco. NADELMANN: And mass advertise as well

MORGAN: But by that criteria, would you then outlaw alcohol and tobacco? And if not, why not?

SAMUELS: Too late.

MORGAN: Too late?

SAMUELS: Too late, OK? Why would I add a third industry that is a dangerous industry that gets your children and my children even more ...

NADELMANN: How is ...

SAMUELS: ... exposure in marijuana.

NADELMANN: ... we're not adding a certain industry.

SAMUELS: Oh, we are.

NADELMANN: You're transforming it from an ...


NADELMANN: ... illegal industry to a legal industry ...

SAMUELS: Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana ...

NADELMANN: ... to transfer, Howard ...

SAMUELS: ... is a disaster for us.

NADELMANN: ... Howard, to transforming it from an illegal industry where conflicts are resolved with violence where you empower organized criminals ...

SAMUELS: There is no -- I mean ...

NADELMANN: ... who you're (inaudible) to people ...

SAMUELS: You are so ...

NADELMANN: Wait a second, if you illegally -- the idea is this will now be legal ...

SAMUELS: Because the reality is ...

NADELMANN: ... Colorado will get it stamped with (inaudible) tax revenues, the money in Colorado ...

SAMUELS: Ethan, Ethan, Ethan ...

NADELMANN: ... the money will go to drug treatment ...

SAMUELS: As we're seeing here right now, there are millions of dollars being raised to create acres and acres of marijuana to be massed produced.

NADELMANN: And, Howard, there were millions of dollars being raised to treat illegal things before.

SAMUELS: So why would you create a drug and put it out there for my children to eat, to smoke ...

NADELMANN: No drug -- Howard, no drug has been created ...

SAMUELS: It's ridiculous.

NADELMANN: And let hear it just for a second ...

MORGAN: Let me just say, I know this debate, it always does, it raises temperatures. Let me just say, there is one other massive issue which we haven't addressed yet which is a tweet came in from Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream firm, saying, "We are hearing reports of store sending out a Ben & Jerry's in Colorado, what's up with that?" and that's a joke you'll only understand if you're really down with the kids and know all about marijuana. And we'll leave it on that.

Gentlemen, thank you all very much indeed. The debate will continue, and we will see where it all ends up. I want to turn now to the other Big Story everyone's talking about tonight, the absolutely freezing temperatures.

People from coast to coast staying in tonight to stay warm, but not my CNN colleagues, the (inaudible) Ted Rowlands is shivering in Chicago, Stephanie Elam is now in Minneapolis, and not be too jealous but I'm here in Los Angeles, it's a (inaudible) 60 degrees tonight. So, my with he was here.

But, Ted, let me go to you. It looks unbelievably cold. Tell me what it actually feels like.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll put it this way, we don't need any Ben & Jerry's ice cream here, Piers, maybe some hot chocolate. It is horrible. It's painful that's what it is. You know, when you're hot, you're uncomfortable, when you're cold, it actually hurts. And my face right now hurts a little bit. Look at this, this is a Lou Malnati's beat this (ph) Chicago pizza, hard as a rock, you could use this as a weapon if you wanted to.

It's ugly out here and it is -- you know, be happy where you are.

MORGAN: Well, look you can barely talk there. I want to turn now to Stephanie because if anything, it's even worse where you are. Was that 12 below zero this afternoon, morning wind chills was 60 below in parts of Northern Minnesota. Apparently, minus 50, skin can freeze in less than five minutes. How's your skin doing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you see, I look a little bit -- I've been called all kinds of things. I've been told I look like Kenny from South Park, I've been told I look like a ninja.

But the main point here, Piers, is it is so cold that I am trying to protect every little (inaudible) and every little hair that I can. It is just so painfully cold. Right now, I think its about negative 15 but feels more like negative 40 because of the wind here and this bottle of water we put out in an half an hour, less than half an hour frozen.

So it just shows you how fast this is, it was completely liquid in the truck and now it's completely just really hard here. We've been out here pretty much throughout the day and we've watched steam come off the river. Something I didn't even know it could happen because the water is actually warmer, so much warmer than the air. Just frigidly, frigidly cold so bad that the Governor of Minnesota would have had, and had the public schools close today the vast majority will also be closed tomorrow, Piers.

MORGAN: Well I think we better wrap up both of you because the pair of you look like you're literally about to freeze to death. So I am taking executive decision to release you before I'm accused of cruelty.

Thank you both very much in joining me. Good luck to everybody out there, it does look incredibly cold.

Temperatures still dropping tonight, we'll have more ahead, on the polar vortex is causing it Chad Maulsby joining me later. Next, a family's desperate battle to safe a 13 year old has been declared brain dead. The family refuses to believe that after she grabs her mother's hand. A very emotional story. I'll talk exclusively to Jahi McMath's uncle, that's coming next.


MORGAN: Thirteen year old Jahi McMath is no longer inside the hospital but doctors declared her brain dead. She's released on the 9th but family members won't reveal where she is right now.

Jahi was declared brain dead in December 12th after complications following surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids and her family has been praying for miracle ever since.

And joining me now exclusively is Omari Sealey, Jahi McMath's uncle and Christopher Dolan, the families' attorney. Welcome to both of you and my incredible sympathies Omari to you and your family. And what is a gut wrenchingly emotional case and, you know, everyone's hearts go out to you as a family.

Where are you now as a family? You have Jahi back with you, are you able to say where she is?

OMARI SEALEY, JAHI MCMATH'S UNCLE: We're not able to disclose where she is. As a family, we are definitely relieved that she is no longer at Children's Hospital. But we're all emotionally drained, you know, and I think everyone is on the verge of, you know, having somewhat of a nervous breakdown because this has been an incredible roller coaster ride of emotions, you know.

And, you know I'm trying to keep together and I keep seeing her picture to the right of me and it's really tough because it really felt like a hostage situation, you know. It's like they kept my niece hostage and we literally had to do a covert operation in the middle of the night to get her out of there and go to federal court and get documents signed just to make this possible.

MORGAN: Why do you believe so strongly as a family that there is still hope when the hospital went through the normal process of getting two physicians to declare whether they thought she was alive or not. And they both declared her effectively brain dead. Why do you believe that they're wrong, that there is still hope and she may still be alive?

SEALEY: Because we believe that as long as her heart is still pumping, she's still alive. You know, when a child is born they don't check to see if the child is breathing because there's no way to. So what they check for is a heartbeat. They put something on the mother's stomach and they listen for the heartbeat. And that tells you if the child is alive or not. So as long as my niece's heart is still beating, she is alive.

MORGAN: Are you seeing any signs of what you think could be evidence that she is alive?

SEALEY: Absolutely, she is moving a lot more. She responds to audio and touch and more compelling evidence is that the fact that she can move her head and neck. And my attorney here, he's been in there to witness it. We've had Dr. Paul Byrne to be in to witness it as well. And he believes she's alive and well and that she can come back too.

MORGAN: Let me turn to you, Christopher and you're the attorney for the family, as I say, incredibly complicated case, isn't it? So many possible precedents can be created here. What is the legal situation right now? The coroner has handed back Jahi's body with the presumption I assume that he believes too that she is dead. The family now have her back. Do they have complete legal rights over her body now?

CHRISTOPHER DOLAN, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF JAHI MCMATH: Well, the situation is sort one in limbo because the coroner on one hand says she is dead. But the reason why the coroner says she's dead is not based upon an independent investigation. It's because the hospital told the coroner that she was dead. So the hospital sets this whole thing in motion and they're the ones who keep insisting that she is dead because that's what they want out of this situation. And I'm not saying that they were intending to kill her but now they are invested in that. And so, if something else were to change, they certainly would look foolish but...

MORGAN: But do you want from a legal point of view to have more physicians examine her to determine whether they agree with the original verdict that she is brain dead?

DOLAN: No, what we wanted to do was have her mother have the ability to make a choice as to whether or not her daughter would stay on or come off of the vent.

MORGAN: Should that always be, do you think, a family's choice?


SEALEY: Absolutely.

MORGAN: You feel that strongly, Omari?

SEALEY: Absolutely. I mean, it's the mother that brought the child into the world. She should be the one to decide whether her child continues to live or not, not someone else.

MORGAN: The hospital said this. This is from the Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland. "Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve for this sad situation. We wish them closure and peace." How long could this go on, Omari? I mean could we be here in a year, two years, five years, ten years? You hear stories of people being on some form of life support sometimes for two decades. How long will you as a family persevere?

SEALEY: Right now we're just taking it one day at a time. You know we're happy that she is where she is right now, that we're able to remove her safely from Children's Hospital. And right now, we're just going to take it one day at a time.

MORGAN: Are you working on the theory that miracles happen?

SEALEY: Not so much -- I mean absolutely. I will say this, getting her out of Children's Hospital was a miracle. That was a miracle. The fact that we had deadline after deadline after deadline, precious situations where they were right there about to pull the plug. And every time they put an obstacle on our way, we were able to overcome it. So that alone is a miracle. The fact that I found Christopher Dolan in the middle of the night.

I found this man at 10:30, 11:00 at night. Called him on his personal cellphone number. He had no idea who I was. He had no idea about the story, but he was willing to help.

MORGAN: Everyone in America knows about Jahi now which much seem extraordinary to you as a family. For those who do have meet her, have met her, what kind of girl is she?

SEALEY: Jahi is a very sweet girl. She was very shy and she smiled all the time. And I can still see her smile and I'm still praying that one day I'll be able to see her smile again but she is everybody's favorite, you know. And she just had one of those personalities that, you know, when you meet her you just kind of gravitated towards her. And it's really tough that we aren't able to, you know, communicate with her. You know, we can communicate with her kind of in spirit. But we would love to be able to have an opportunity to actually hear her voice.

MORGAN: You've been raising money, more than $50,000 so far on a site called This was to help with all the cost of moving her and obviously, the ongoing medical cost. More than 1,300 people donated in ten days. You must be amazed by the reaction to this. SEALEY: I mean absolutely. I mean when I typed up those e-mails and sent them out to the press, I never even thought anyone would look at them. But with a situation like this when you're talking about a 13- year-old girl who had her whole life ahead of her with such a beautiful smile, I mean how can you not get in touch with the story. You know, it's kind of hard not to.

MORGAN: Omari, I wish you and your family all the very best with this. As I say our hearts go out to -- everyone's hearts go out to you and we just hope some kind of happy resolution for you.

SEALEY: We want to thank you because it was really your show that helped connect us with the people who are now helping her. And news is always often put down but in this case you help make this possible.

MORGAN: Well I think it's very difficult. We're going to discuss the legal side of it with some legal experts in a moment. I'm going to say from a father's point of view. I totally understood where Jahi's mother was coming from. You would try everything and anything if that was your child and you got to believe in miracles and I think it is a mother's right to do that and not some hospital's right to say, "No. We're pulling the plug," so.

SEALEY: Thank you.

MORGAN: I glad we've been helpful. I hope we can continue to be helpful. Thank you both very much.

SEALEY: Thank you.

MORGAN: Jahi McMath's situation is a nightmare for her desperate family. But who should decide what happens to her next? When we come back I'll talk to Arthur Caplan who's one of America's top ethics experts and CNN's very own Jeffrey Toobin on the legal side.


MORGAN: You heard from the uncle of Jahi McMath, a 13 year old who was declared brain dead because of complications following tonsil surgery. The family is praying for miracle on this heartbreaking case. But who should decide what happens now?

Joining me now is Arthur Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics at NYU Medical Center and CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Welcome to both of you.

Arthur Caplan, we've discussed this before, has anything changed in your opinion of this case since we last talked about it given that there's now the movement in terms of the apparent legal position?

ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Nothing's changed medically. The chance of her recovering, becoming conscious, in any way showing life is not there. The brain death diagnosis has been confirmed. Independent experts -- I know the family wishes for a miracle here and, you know, one has to empathize as you were doing, Piers, with their plight but the fact that she's out of Oakland Children's, if anything it may be a little more difficult to keep her heart beating on machines than it was in there.

MORGAN: Has anybody to your knowledge recovered after being declared brain dead?

CAPLAN: You know, I checked this. There had been a couple of instances where people were misdiagnosed as brain dead in situations like drowning where it's hard to be sure if it's a young child whether they truly are brain dead. But in situations where we know someone's gone without oxygen and that's Jahi, no one has ever recovered from brain death. The appropriate tests were all done here a number of times. Sadly no. No one has ever come back.

MORGAN: Jeff Toobin, it's an incredibly difficult case, isn't it, ethically, legally, morally, and just from a human perspective? What do you make of it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Piers, I think from a human perspective it's heartbreaking and difficult. But from all those other perspectives, legally, medically, ethically, I don't think it's a difficult case. I mean unfortunately, this child is dead. We draw this distinction between brain death and death. There is no distinction.

And, you know, for frankly, these lawyers to be preying on the heartbreak of these families and giving them false hope, I think that's the tragedy here because this is not a controversy. You know, brain death has been the standard since the 1970s. It's not like this is some new innovation. This...

MORGAN: But Jeff, what about the issue of family consent because my understanding is in New Jersey -- and maybe the only place in America that has this -- there is a right of consent that exists for a family in this position to go against the advice of the physicians to turn off life support. So it does exist in New Jersey. If they were in New Jersey, they could do this legally. Why does it not exist elsewhere?

TOOBIN: Because there is -- and frankly, you know, I don't know much about the New Jersey law but when you have a situation when a child is dead, the responsibility is for the hospital and the parents to come to terms and understand that but there is no remedy here. There is no way for the parents to say that they want to keep a child alive who is already dead.

CAPLAN: Piers, that New Jersey statute by the way doesn't challenge brain death. It simply says that a hospital can try to accommodate the acceptance and that's what we're seeing in this case. The family won't accept. It tries to allow for reasonable accommodation. In other instances, sometimes you want to wait for the family to come. But as Jeff said, there is no challenge legally, ethically, or medically to the idea that brain death is death when it's pronounced by...

MORGAN: But what about -- OK let me challenge you -- OK, but Arthur, let me challenge you on a human level which is if that was your child -- you know, I've got a young daughter. And my daughter got to 12 and is in this position. And I believed whether it was right or not, but I believe I could feel some reaction in her hand, I believe I could get some reaction to what was being said in her room, you know, I would be doing absolutely everything in my power to try and make a miracle happen. Why should we be stopping this family from being in that position?

CAPLAN: You know, I'll answer this way. I think it's precisely because parents are never going to concede. What parent would ever give up? What relative who love their family members would give up? It's physicians who have to make the call when death comes. You need that independent arbiter to say, "The heart has stopped, breathing has stopped, or the brain has totally ceased to function, that's death." That's what they're expert at, that's what the legislatures and the law has given them the ability to do.

If we left it up to you and me grieving over our families, who's going to say give up?

MORGAN: There's another case in Texas which is fascinating on a different level. It involves a 33-year-old woman called Marlise Munoz. Now she's been in hospital since the 26th of November after collapsing at home from a suspected pulmonary embolism. There's been no result of an autopsy yet. I have to clarify. But she and her husband, both paramedics, have decided they did not want to be resuscitated in the case of brain death.

And it turned out that she was pregnant and the hospital is now keeping her alive. So a kind of opposite situation to the one that Jahi is in. They're keeping her alive for the sake of the life of the unborn child. Now, where do you sit with that, Arthur Caplan?

CAPLAN: Well, for me, Texas legislature has no business intruding into this tragedy. These are two people -- the deceased -- apparently deceased woman and her husband very well informed about resuscitation. They don't want to continue with a nonviable fetus.

So what we are seeing is the legislature playing politics, I would say, coming forward and saying, "You're going to parent no matter what. We're not going to respect your choice. We're not going to respect your liberty. We're not going to let you decide whether or not you want this to continue. We are." And that seems to me to be flat out wrong.

TOOBIN: Piers, if you scratch beneath the surface in so many of these, certainly, the Terri Schiavo case and this Texas case, what you see is the ugly head of abortion politics because the Pro-life Antiabortion Movement has been struggling to define life in a broad, broad possible way. Fetuses are alive. People who's brain dead are alive. People who can't possibly recover are alive.

That's what this Texas law is about. It's an attempt to bring abortion politics into these horrible personal situations. A 14-week fetus can't possibly survive but this family is being tortured because of the Texas legislature.

MORGAN: Well, another very complicated case. Arthur Caplan, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

When we come back, the American dream coming to life. Two Vietnamese brothers finding their way from the mean streets and into the Ivy League, a quite extraordinary story of hope there and I hope you stay with it -- with us to hear it. And reporters also joining me at the moment (inaudible).


MORGAN: Another story that have gotten national attention and quite rightly after it went viral when Boston Globe Reporter Billy Baker tweeted about how he became a mentor to two disadvantaged brothers from a high crime, high poverty area of Boston. Joining me now are brothers George and Johnny Huynh, also reporter Billy Baker, and the man who's like the most to connect the boys with Baker Emmett Folgert who is the founder of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative. They joined me exclusively. Welcome to all of you.

Now, Billy, let me start with you because I like many were moved by your tweets about this which were the end of the journey really when young George aged 17 was offered a place at Yale. We also know that his older brother Johnny is here as well has got into UMass, why did this story touching out with you?

BILLY BAKER, BOSTON GLOBE REPORTER WHO MENTORED BROTHERS: It was a story of hope and opportunity in an area that doesn't have too many of them, areas that have, you know, high crime, high poverty, and I met these boys, they weren't waiting for someone to help them, they were doing it on their own. And then I wrote about them first two years ago, it was a story of this very troubled past that they'd had and how they...

MORGAN: Tell me a little bit about the background of the boys.

BAKER: Well, their parents immigrated from Vietnam, their father fought alongside the US in Vietnam; he was prisoner of the war for five years. They made their way to America, they had an idea I think in their head that the streets were paved with gold and opportunity. And I don't think that's what they found here, there was -- it wasn't, you know, always the sad story but there were some troubles, their father eventually committed suicide about three years before I met the boys and they had some issues with their mother, some language issues which are interesting. And then they met a wonderful mentor, Emmett, they were always good students, they've started to really excel at the top school in Boston and when I discovered them it was start of the beginning of what I would describe as this happy ending.

So, I first wrote about them as they had, you know, many people, Emmett, a man named Vin who's a mentor to them, a wonderful guidance counselor...

MORGAN: I mean I read your tweets. They were like an outpouring really of emotion, unusual for a reporter, but you became very attached. Let's turn to the boys. OK, George let me start with you because you've been offered a place at Yale, but brilliantly you have made your mind (inaudible) because you're still quite fancy (inaudible), is that right?

GEORGE HUYNH: Yes, that's right.

MORGAN: So, you're just playing with them both, right, two of the most imminent colleges in America, you're just towing with them.

G. HUYNH: I don't want to tow with them.

MORGAN: How do you feel about what has happened to you and to your brother?

G. HUYNH: Definitely really exciting that we have come such a long way from, you know, poverty, single parent, and it's definitely really exciting for me to be accepted to, you know, Ivy college but as well as for my brother to attend, you know, a college already and, you know, it feels amazing to, you know, be in the right path and...

MORGAN: Do you feel, you know, we heard the very sad story about your father taking his life and your mom's had a lot of problems with mental issues, and so on, you'd been living on food stamps to the family. I mean, it's an extraordinary story that you two boys have defied all the problems be laid at your feet.

Do you feel, Johnny, that you are now living perhaps the American dream your parents wanted to live when they came here?

JOHNNY HUYNH: I don't know if I can call it the American dream but we're getting closer to that I suppose because I have still yet to graduate from college, although we have been given many privileges of being able to be educated and we're well on our way. We're well on our way.

BAKER: What's appealing about these boys is that they've always been so modest about what they've done for themselves and...

MORGAN: Well let me bring in, Emmett, because you've been the great, sort of, mentor here. The Dorchester Youth Collaborative actually boasts some pretty starry other ex alumni. Tell me about that?

EMMETT FOLGERT, DORCHESTER YOUTH COLLABORATIVE, FOUNDER: Well, we'd spoke before and of course Donnie Wahlberg is my (inaudible). I've known him since he was probably 10 years old.

MORGAN: An older new kids on the block. (Inaudible) They're the new kids on the block. They're now the old kids on the block. You're the new kids on the block. You're the new new kids on the blocks.

Well, what made these boys special enough to be able to make this miraculous achievement which is what many people see it as?

FOLGERT: Well I don't think they -- I don't think they call themselves special. They made excellent (inaudible) just like the new kids in (inaudible) opportunities but they did have opportunities, honest opportunities. They deserve to have those like kind of a safe place they could go, food they could eat so that -- and people move the obstacles out of the way and they prove what young people from violent crime hotspot (inaudible) neighborhoods can do if you give them a chance. They just need champions.

MORGAN: When you look around the streets in which you have grown up, pretty tough streets, I've covered the new kids on the block for a British newspaper I was telling you before we started this and went to Dorchester at Boston, spent a few days there and it's a hard place to grow up. I mean a lot of people and I spoke with Mark Wahlberg about this and Donnie Wahlberg, you know, getting to crime in difficult situations, Mark certainly did.

How do you avoid that? What is your advice to other kids in that area and neighborhoods like that around America for avoiding the pitfalls of crime and violence and so on?

J. HUYNH: Find hobbies to do. You find caring adults who can support you when you need it. If you can't find it at home you can certainly look to youth collaboratives or just places for you to go. It's very important to have someone who can mentor you and support you.

MORGAN: George, what do you think?

G. HYUNH: Yeah. I definitely agree. Well of course to avoid, you know, being involved in gangs and the violence that goes on. You just have to, you know, put your head down and walk the street and even when someone tries to, you know, for example, rob you or, you know, provoke you, just try your best not to retaliate and just keep your head down and we're very fortunate to have a place like DYC, you know, where we can, you know, hang out and feel really safe even in a neighborhood like Dorchester.

MORGAN: Do you have time for fun, you two or is it all just, you know, load the grindstone, work, work, work? Any play that goes on?

BAKER: They are very capable of being typical teenagers. They play. They come across as (inaudible).

MORGAN: Well, this is just (inaudible) We'll find out what you are also doing apart from working unbelievably hard. We'll come back and find out your plans for college, a little bit of fun about you and more messages for the youths of America on how they can be more like you and less about some of the more gang-related, crime-ridden areas.


MORGAN: You've heard George and Johnny Hyunh's inspiring story of escape from the mean street of Boston. But what's next with these extraordinary brothers?

Well, back with me now George and Johnny, also Boston Globe reporter Billy Baker and Dorchester Youth Collaborative founder Emmet Folgert.

We were just talking in the break about this. This is only the second time you got on a plane in your lives was to come to the studio today, right?

G. HUYNH: Yes. MORGAN: By the time you got back to your -- where your parents came from in Vietnam, what do you think your father would have made with the fact that you've been offered this place at Yale and you're at UMass?

J. HUYNH: He would have been very proud of us. He was very smart for someone who didn't have that much of an education like he didn't have the opportunities we had, but he was still very -- he was a very smart man.

MORGAN: So George, I mean, do you think that he instilled in you the kind of values that you're clearly showing us tonight?

G. HUYNH: He definitely did, because I mean when I was in elementary school he would always check my homework, make sure I was doing well. And of course I think he would be proud of us because, you know, I saw this photo of him, he's standing right next to the John Harvard statue and I think that he's very proud that I've gotten into Yale.

MORGAN: Well, he probably went to Harvard. That's why you want to go to Harvard, right? Probably. Maybe.

G. HUYNH: A little bit.

MORGAN: Billy, I remember just reading out at the end of the show when the tweets first appeared. You just got to read this Twitter feed. You haven't tweeted since. Still I urge anyone to go and read it. What's your Twitter address?

BAKER: It's billy_baker.

MORGAN: That's @billy_baker. You just got to read it and you'll understand why (inaudible) everyone so much. I mean you sort of filled in as has Emmett into I suppose the void of not having a father around. Even buying them Christmas gifts and stuff like that, prom tickets and so on.

The pair of you have been almost surrogate fathers, haven't you?

BAKER: I mean more so, Emmett, certainly. I'm more of the -- I don't what I am to them.

FOLGERT: What was very intense about the situation is that the father did commit suicide and that the mother is disabled, and then we're like well, where are the uncles and aunts and they weren't there and they're like, oh, well you're going to be very close to us then.

So, there was a very intense relationship with us. And then when this guy came along, I think I got to put him to work.

BAKER: Yeah, dream thing, you know, you're a journalist. You hope to find this set of magical story and I walked into this, yeah. And...

MORGAN: What are you doing at UMass?

J. HUYNH: Studying chemical engineering. MORGAN: What do you want to be?

J. HUYNH: Chemical engineer.

MORGAN: Duh, yeah. What about you, what are you going to be?

G. HUYNH: Thinking about studying biomedical engineering.

MORGAN: What do you want to be?

G. HUYNH: Journalism.

MORGAN: You'll be a journalist?

G. HUYNH: Maybe.

MORGAN: God help us. Billy (inaudible).

BAKER: Gladly.

MORGAN: Well, we would welcome you, George, into our profession and good luck to the pair of you with whatever decisions you take, George and Johnny, obviously, you're already at UMass. Best of luck to you. To you guys congratulations. This is an amazingly heartwarming story. A great way to start the year and get you all here and here's to many more flights, boys. All right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you all.

MORGAN: You know it's cold outside but how cold is it in Wisconsin today, it was 21 below. Can you believe that, cold enough to ruin your breakfast because there's a frozen orange, no match for an egg that is frozen solid. Latest on extreme weather when we come back with Chad Myers.



MORGAN: Here's another (inaudible) kid jumping on a frozen trampoline over the weekend. Much of the country is frozen solid tonight. Chad Myers is in CNN's severe weather center (inaudible). Never has the term severe weather center be more appropriate, Chad. Just how cold is it getting out there?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know what for just for you, Piers, the temperature is exactly the same in Celsius as it is in Fahrenheit. 30 below, 40 below, 45 below, when you get to 40 below zero, that's the same in Celsius as it is in Fahrenheit, that's what it feels like right now in Green Bay, that is 70 Fahrenheit. That's 72 degrees below freezing, that's what it feels like to your skin and it's still warm in New York but don't count on that to last.

Pocono Mountain, you're already 15, back out toward Williamsport, 5. That air is going to slam into New York City later on tonight. The morning low is going to be 11. Enjoy the warm air while you have it, Piers.

MORGAN: And how long is it going to last, Chad? (inaudible) tonight?

MYERS: All the way through until Friday. And then by the weekend, it actually warms up almost to normal.

MORGAN: Well, thanks Chad, we just got a quick e-mail here from Ashleigh Banfield, my CNN colleague, said it was very good point to remind people to set the timer on their stove and don't let pets outside of the cold. It's easy to forget about pets in those situations in the painful death. I mean it's very good advice. And also take care of all the elderly who are out there as well.

Tomorrow, new year, new you expert advice to help you turn your life around in 2014 from chef Jamie Oliver, (inaudible), Jane Pauley and Shelly Shepherd (ph). That's live tomorrow night. AC 360 starts now.