ABC Hypes 'Historic' Pot 'Revolution' in Colorado: 'From the Underground to the Mainstream'
New Years seemed like a good time for ABC to push the marijuana "revolution" taking place in Colorado. World News reporter Clayton Sandell on Wednesday featured an almost entirely positive story, focusing on job growth related to pot and featuring one man (wearing green face paint) who enthused, "This is a historical event." Sandell showcased the grand opening of a new store that legally sells the drug for recreational use. [MP3 audio here.] Another man gushed, "We drove 17 hours to get here."
The journalist touted, "Other states are now watching to see how this new experiment works out as marijuana moves from the underground to the mainstream." Highlighting the economic angle, he continued, "Anyone over 21 can buy it, helping fuel a Colorado green rush." Sandell featured one businessman who enthused, "We want to be the Costco of marijuana."
All the reporter could manage for balance is a few sentences on the possible downside. He noted, "But not everyone is on board. Marijuana is still a federal crime. There are worries about increasing teen pot use and driving while high."
Sandell added, "Even ski resorts here worried about a family friendly image are warning stoners to stay off the slopes."
However, every person featured in the segment either supported the new law or, in one case, offered a neutral assessment.
A transcript of the January 1 World News segment, which aired at 6:38pm ET, is below:
DAVID MUIR: With a new year comes new laws as well and one led to major lines today. For the first time, you can buy marijuana legally in parts of Colorado purely for recreational use. Tonight, there is already talk of shortages and a different kind of after effect, new jobs. ABC's Clayton Sandell in Denver.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Have your IDs ready.
CLAYTON SANDELL: They lined up before dawn.
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We drove 17 hours to get here.
SANDELL: Some sleeping in their cars --
THIRD UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a historical event.
SANDELL: –for a chance to be early through the door at one of the world's very first recreational marijuana shops. Even in Amsterdam it's tolerated but technically illegal.
TONI FOX (3D Cannabis Center): 8am. We're gonna do it!
SANDELL: Scoring weed now as easy as buying coffee.
FOX: Sean, your total is $59.74.
SANDELL: Anyone over 21 can buy it, helping fuel a Colorado green rush.
FOURTH UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We want to be the Costco of marijuana.
SANDELL: In the first year alone, sales are predicted to hit nearly $400 million.
FOX: This room is filled with about 25 different strains of cannabis currently.
SANDELL: Shop owner Toni Fox is expanding and hiring. Today, she has nine employees.
FOX: By the end of January we should have about 30.
SANDELL: Matt Brown started a company for pot tourists. He has 4,000 people on a waiting list.
FOX: This is legal. This is real. And you can do this and have a good vacation and go home and not get in trouble.
SANDELL: But not everyone is on board. Marijuana is still a federal crime. There are worries about increasing teen pot use and driving while high. Even ski resorts here worried about a family friendly image are warning stoners to stay off the slopes.
FIFTH UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here in public it is legal.
FOX: Here is your receipt.
SANDELL: Other states are now watching to see how this new experiment works out as marijuana moves from the underground to the mainstream. Clayton Sandell, ABC news, Denver.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.