CBS Returns to Puffing Pot: 'High Times' in Seattle
For the second day in a row, CBS This Morning reported live from Seattle as Washington State officially legalizes marijuana. The on-screen graphic for the segment promoted the "high times" sure to come. Standing in front of Cannabis City, reporter Adriana Diaz enthused, "At 12 o'clock, Tuesday, dubbed high noon, Cannabis City's owner cut police tape to symbolically mark the legal sale of recreational pot for the first time." [MP3 audio here.]
The story featured celebrations and footage of an employee yelling, "Open for business! Hooray!" Only near the end of the segment did Diaz note that some people are "taking issue" with the legalization. She featured Courtney Popp, the special deputy with the Washington state patrol. Popp explained, "Ever since the legalization passed, every park you go to, every large public event, there are people openly smoking marijuana."
NBC's Today, in contrast, offered more of the potential downside. Reporter Joe Fryer noted, "But the United Nations World Drug Report points to concerns. The number of American teens using cannabis is rising."
Discussing the availability of pot in Colorado, he added:
JOE FRYER: This year, 12 kids have been treated at Colorado Children's Hospital after getting sick from marijuana edibles. So the state's making changes. For now in Washington edibles are not for sale, but rules for testing and packaging them are strengthened. But the stuff that's smoked is legal and demand is high.
On Tuesday, ABC's Good Morning America promoted the legalization in Washington State:
NEAL KARLINSKY: Regardless, there will be celebrations today. They won't be sleepless in Seattle, but they might be sleepy. Stores can open for the first time in history at 8:00 a.m., though, to quote the owner here, they will open today at high noon.
CBS's reporting, overall, has been uneven. In May, the promoted the new "pot lobbyist" in Washington D.C. who is "making friends in high places."
In January, the network promoted "cannabis capitalism" and "pot tours" that cure the "marijuana munchies."
However, on April 30, the network showcased the dangers of "edible pot" and discussed the resulting deaths in Colorado.
A transcript of the July 9 CBS This Morning segment is below:
CBS Graphic: High Times: Supplies Short as Pot Sales Begin in Washington
NORAH O'DONNELL: The Seattle Times looked at the large crowd that showed up at Washington State's new marijuana stores, Tuesday. It was the first day for legalized pot sales in the state. This morning, marijuana shops are preparing for another busy day. Adriana Diaz is inside Cannabis City, the only store open in Seattle.
ADRIANA DIAZ: Good morning. At the final tally, more than 900 people made their way into this store yesterday and through out the day, the store kept up a pace of 100 sales an hour.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: It's time to free the weed!
DIAZ: At 12 o'clock, Tuesday, dubbed high noon, Cannabis City's owner cut police tape to symbolically mark the legalization of recreational pot for the first time.
SECOND UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Open for business! Hooray!
DIAZ: Sixty-five-year-old Deborah Green, who waited in line for nearly 24 hours, was their first customer.
DEBORAH GREEN: My gosh! Who would have thought? It used to be "hey, I got some good bud here, $20, do you want it?" "Yeah." You don't know what you're getting.
DIAZ: Cannabis City is just one of the four retail stores currently for business. More than 300 retail licenses are set to be issued. The hold up? Washington State's marijuana medical dispensaries are unregulated. So, while Colorado was able to transition medical marijuana to recreational earlier this year, Washington had to make a fresh start and less than a tenth of approved growers were ready to harvest in time. Short supply and high taxes pushed prices to double the street value.
THIRD UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Everybody, I need you up and moving back.
DIAZ: Still, hundreds of people line the block of Seattle's only approved retailer. And while many outside Cannabis City celebrated, others took issue with the drug now being readily and legally available. Courtney Popp is a special deputy with the Washington State patrol.
COURTNEY POPP: We're going to see people that we've never seen before. Ever since the legalization passed, every park you go to, every large public event, there are people openly smoking marijuana.
DIAZ: But Green thinks the presence of pot will diminish abuse of the drug.
GREEN: It's in a form that we at least start to manage and maybe take some of the scariness away from other people who don't really know about it.
DIAZ: But sales don't come without restrictions. People are banned from smoking in public. Pot retailers can't be within 1000 feet of a school and customers can only buy up to 28 grams at a time.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.