CBS Puffs 'Pot Lobbyist' in D.C.: 'Making Friends in High Places'

CBS This Morning journalists on Friday continued the show's obsession with legalized pot, offering an uncritical puffing of a new marijuana lobbyist in Washington D.C. Gayle King touted, "Marijuana is now legal in some form in nearly half the country. The growing cannabis industry wants a voice in Washington." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] A CBS graphic promoted, "Making Friends in High Places: Cannabis Industry Hires First Full-Time Lobbyist." 

Nancy Cordes insisted, "And it's just inevitable that as the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana become more widely known, there are going to be more attempts to legislate it at the federal level." But she offered zero examples of what possible "drawbacks" could be. Instead, she repeated the talking points of pot lobbyist Michael Correia: "He spends his days urging members and their staffers to change the law that prohibits banks from lending to marijuana venders." 

She added, "That forces vendors, he says, to deal mainly in cash, which can be risky." 

Noting that marijuana is a $2.5 billion industry, King lectured, "It's not surprising that industry leaders decided they needed some representation here on Capitol Hill." 

On April 21, the morning show touted the best legalized marijuana in Colorado, "Ghost Train Haze." Both that segment and the one on Friday ignored a new study finding that even casual marijuana use can damage your brain. 

On January 24, CBS promoted "cannabis capitalism" in Colorado and "pot tours" that cure the "marijuana munchies." 

In fairness, CBS did highlight the dangers of "edible pot" on April 30, noting deaths in Colorado. But the network's uncritical looks at legalization still outweigh CBS's attempts at serious analysis. 

A transcript of the May 2 CBS This Morning segment is below:  


8:05

2 minutes 42 seconds

GAYLE KING: Marijuana is now legal in some form in nearly half the country. The growing cannabis industry wants a voice in Washington. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill to introduce a man who is now pot's lobbyist. Nancy, good morning.

CBS GRAPHIC: Making Friends in High Places: Cannabis Industry Hires First Full-Time Lobbyist

NANCY CORDES: That's an interesting line for the resume, right, Gail? But if you think about it, marijuana is now a $2.5 billion industry. It's expected to grow to $10 billion just over the next few years, and so it's not surprising that industry leaders decided they needed some representation here on Capitol Hill. Canvass Capitol Hill on any given day and you'll run into hundreds of lobbyists. But Michael Correia is one of the time. He's the first full-time lobbyist for growing marijuana industry. 

MICHAEL CORREIA (National Cannabis Industry Assoc.) Financial institutions will not give financial services to the cannabis industry. 

CORDES: You don't look like a pot guy, per Se. 

CORREIA: Well, it's because I'm not. I'm just a Capitol Hill vet like most capitol hill people. 

CORDES: Correia, who is 44, has worked as a Republican staffer and lobbyist for more than 15 years. He was hired by the National Cannabis industry Association five months ago. 

CORDES: What do you friends think? 

CORREIA: The first thing everyone says is congratulations. The second thing everyone says is do you have any samples?

CORDES: He spends his days urging members and their staffers to change the law that prohibits banks from lending to marijuana venders. That forces vendors, he says, to deal mainly in cash, which can be risky. 

CORREIA: They can't reinvest in their own companies. They can't hire new employees. 

CORDES: And now that marijuana is at least partially legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, changing the law could mean billions for the industry. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Nice to see you again. 

CORDES: So industry leaders are spending more time meeting with members of Congress like Virginia democrat Jerry Moran. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We thank you. We're grateful for your leadership on this issue. 

CORDES: As for Correia, he hasn't used pot since he was a teenager. He's more interested in the issue than inhaling. 

CORREIA: I've had my views on marijuana and they've definitely changed and I'm really open minded and I think I represent a lot of people who basically are just coming into the marijuana issue. They want to learn more. 

CORDES: And it's just inevitable that as the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana become more widely known, there are going to be more attempts to legislate it at the federal level. In fact, just last night, Norah, the House narrowly defeated an amendment that would have given the VA more leeway to recommend medical marijuana in patients in states where it's legal. 

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