CNN Reporter Promotes Pro-Pot Study: ‘Our Friend Marijuana’

Playing into the stereotype of what conservatives think liberals are interested in, CNN reporter Stephanie Elam introduced a new study on pot by calling the drug "our friend marijuana." Elam, the guest business reporter on Tuesday’s "American Morning," discussed a report from the Marijuana Policy Project [MPP]. The pro-legalization group claims that pot is the most valuable cash crop in the United States, far exceeding corn, wheat, and other products. This information seemed to animate Elam and guest host John Roberts:

John Roberts: "Corn and soybeans have nothing on America's largest cash crop, and get this: you can't even buy it at your grocery store. Twenty-four minutes after the hour, Stephanie Elam is minding your business this morning. Morning to you."

Stephanie Elam: "Good morning. I wonder how many people are tuning in now."

Roberts: "Yeah. What are we talking about here?"

Elam: "Our friend marijuana."

Roberts: "Oh!"

Elam: "Yes. A lot of people's friend, I should say. In the U.S., it actually exceeds $35 billion. Now, this information, I should say, is coming from someone who is advocating the idea of legalizing marijuana. But they're saying marijuana here is actually -- in the U.S. the market value exceeds $35 billion, and that would be greater than the value of corn, soybean and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops."

Roberts: "Hey, if you could make it into ethanol, maybe it would work."

Elam: "Then maybe there would be more people going for it. Now, a third of the harvest comes out of one state. You guys want to venture a guess which state?"

Soledad O’Brien: "California."

Elam: "Indeed. It is, indeed, my home state."

O’Brien: "I lived there for a long time. I know."

Shortly thereafter, the conversation shifted to another popular topic among liberals, increasing taxes on products. Specifically, Elam and Roberts indicated that legalization could be an act of of good citizenship:

Soledad O'Brien: "So, is this their strategy? We could make a lot of money if we'd legalize pot? Is that the--"

Elam: "Well, this man's angle is if they do this, and it's become something that could be treated like alcohol, and then, therefore, the government could tax it. And it would be another way for them to gain money."

O’Brien: "I get it."

Elam: "But they're saying--"

O’Brien: "Big numbers."

Elam: "Very large numbers. But it's an interesting idea."

Elam did state that MPP is a pro legalization organization, it’s also interesting to note that their website encourages supporters to "party at the Playboy Mansion" and is promoting a new ad that asks whether "Rush Limbaugh should go to jail."

Many conservatives may find it hard to resist making the joke that CNN’s fondness for marijuana would explain a number of their reports and odd claims.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 19 at 8:25am, follows:

John Roberts: "Corn and soybeans have nothing on America's largest cash crop, and get this: you can't even buy it at your grocery store. Twenty-four minutes after the hour, Stephanie Elam is minding your business this morning. Morning to you."

Stephanie Elam: "Good morning. I wonder how many people are tuning in now."

Roberts: "Yeah. What are we talking about here?"

Elam: "Our friend marijuana."

Roberts: "Oh!"

Elam: "Yes. A lot of people's friend, I should say. In the U.S., it actually exceeds $35 billion. Now, this information, I should say, is coming from someone who is advocating the idea of legalizing marijuana. But, they're saying marijuana here is actually -- in the U.S. the market value exceeds $35 billion, and that would be greater than the value of corn, soybean, and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops."

Roberts: "Hey, if you could make it into ethanol, maybe it would work."

Elam: "Then maybe there would be more people going for it. Now, a third of the harvest comes out of one state. You guys want to venture a guess which state?"

Soledad O’Brien: "California."

Elam: "Indeed. It is indeed, my home state."

O’Brien: "I lived there for a long time. I know."

Elam: "California. California would be the one; $13.8 billion worth, they're saying would actually come out of California there. And that would be more of the value of the state's combined market value of grapes, as well, as hay and vegetables."

O'Brien: "So, is this their strategy: we could make a lot of money if we'd legalize pot? Is that the-"

Elam: "Well, this man's angle is if they do this, and it's become something that could be treated like alcohol, and then therefore, the government could tax it. And it would be another way for them to gain money."

O’Brien: "I get it."

Elam: "But they're saying--"

O’Brien: "Big numbers."

Elam: "Very large numbers. But it's an interesting idea."

Roberts: "It follows along that whole thing that if you want to put the drug cartels and the poppy growers in Afghanistan out of business tomorrow, you legalize all this stuff and you can make huge profits."

Elam: "And some argue that doesn't really work as well anyway. For countries where opium or same thing, coca -- it's not having the same effect."

Roberts: "There's a little moral problem with that whole thing."

O’Brien: "I was going to say, then there's the moral argument that's not going to hold up on that one."

Elam: "They don't want it to be treated like LSD or heroin, because they're saying there's no actual benefit from there, whereas marijuana has shown to have some benefits. But still, it's -- I don't think it's really going to help."

O’Brien: "It's big numbers. The numbers they cite are 50 percent more, they say, worth of marijuana than the next type, which is what, corn or something"

Elam: "Corn, yes, soybean. And on top of it, in a dozen states it's also believed to be the top cash crop, as well. So it's spread across the country whereas it may have been in little areas before. Now it's everywhere."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org