CBS Puffs Pot as an Empowerment Tool for Women: 'Breaking the Grass Ceiling'

CBS This Morning on Tuesday continued its role as the biggest cheerleader of legalized marijuana. Reporter Barry Petersen hailed the role of women in Colorado's expanding pot industry. A network graphic touted, "Breaking the Grass Ceiling." Except for one throw-away line, the entire segment avoided the health dangers of marijuana. Instead, Petersen hyped women and pot: "And as in other businesses, women are changing attitudes with sheer competence." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

The reporter talked to one woman who had received criticism for selling pot brownies. Petersen empathized, Somebody said to you, you're a bad person because you're around marijuana and you're around kids." He added, "It is still early times in the legal marijuana industry. And that's why women say it's the perfect time to let everyone know that in this business, a woman's place is at the top." 

It wasn't until the very end of the segment that co-host Norah O'Donnell wondered, "I just read recently that pot brownies can be dangerous. Where did I read that?" Fellow co-host Charlie Rose appeared baffled, "I don't know." 

In fact, Rose's own show covered this danger on April 30, 2014. Gayle King noted that two people have died in Colorado after eating pot brownies. That point, however, wasn't mentioned on Tuesday. 

According to ABCNews.com

A Colorado man is accused of killing his wife after eating now-legal pot candy, Denver authorities said. A Wyoming college student leapt to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after eating a marijuana cookie purchased at a pot shop, police said. And at least one Colorado hospital has reported an increase in visits after children ate too many pot-laced treats, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Could it involve the way the drug is ingested -- in the form of pot cookies or brownies instead of smoking? There’s not enough research on edible marijuana to make a definite link, said Al Bronstein, a physician and medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, which handles local poison control issues. But Bronstein noted that edible marijuana is risky for several reasons.

“What we’re seeing with edibles is that the effect is delayed for approximately 30 minutes, depending on the person,” Bronstein said. “People get impatient for the effect and will take more, and then the symptoms are more pronounced than what they were expecting.”

On May 2, 2014, CBS journalists promoted the first "pot lobbyist" in Washington D.C. who is "making friends in high places." 

On April 21, 2014, the network promoted the best marijuana in Colorado, hyping "Ghost Train Haze." 

[Thanks to MRC intern Laura Flint for the video.]

A transcript of the June 17 segment is below: 


CBS GRAPHIC: Breaking the Grass Ceiling: The Role of Women in the Legal Marijuana Industry

NORAH O'DONNELL: Colorado's governor expects marijuana sales to reach $1 billion by the end of fiscal year, later this month. That includes $69 million in recreational pot which became legal in January. And as Barry Petersen shows us, it's not just the men making all that money. 

BARRY PETERSEN: It's not surprising that Colorado mom Jane West has some pretty firm ideas about her boys smoking pot. So when your boys are teenagers and say, "mom, can I smoke pot," what are you going to say?

JANE WEST: Absolutely not. 

PETERSEN: What maybe surprising is that this mom is on a marijuana mission, making the pot business women friendly. People compare what's happening here kind of like the early days of the Silicon Valley where an industry is kind of being created. 

WEST: Yes. 

PETERSEN: In that sense, is it important that women stake a claim early? 

JANE WEST: I absolutely think so. Because we're creating national brands here.

PETERSEN: She runs her own startup company, staging marijuana-themed social events like this event Colorado symphony fund-raiser billed as BYOP, or bring your own pot. And she started a group called Women Grow, where women can interact with other women in the marijuana business. Like Jennifer Murray, whose marijuana testing company she founded called Can Labs went public last week. 

JENNIFER MURRAY: Like any other business, it's hard. Then, add marijuana on, it's even harder, and add on the fact it's a male-dominated industry. So, I think we found comfort in each other. 

PETERSEN: Traditionally, women and marijuana had more been about bikinis than business. And men were the pot smokers in movies. But that's also changing with Comedy Central's Broad City and Showtime's Weeds. And as in other businesses, women are changing attitudes with sheer competence. 

JULIE DOOLEY: Each sticker has a warning reminding everybody to keep I away children. 

PETERSEN: But it's not a cakewalk as Julie Dooley found out the hard way. Her company Julie and Kate makes gluten and sugar-free snacks infused with marijuana. But a mom in the marijuana business is also a target. You've gotten negative reaction where people go to school. Somebody said to you're a bad person because you're around marijuana and you're around kids. 

JULIE DOOLEY: A quote? 

PETERSEN: Absolutely. 

DOOLEY: Abomination. 

PETERSEN: That's what you were called? 

DOOLEY: Yes. 

PETERSEN: And how do you handle that? 

DOOLEY: You learn from it. They're definitely offended by the cannabis industry and that is me, for a moment. They see me as the cannabis industry. But in reality, I'm one of many. 

PETERSEN: It is still early times in the legal marijuana industry. And that's why women say it's the perfect time to let everyone know that in this business, a woman's place is at the top. For CBS This Morning," Barry Petersen in Denver.

O'DONNELL: Well –  

GAYLE KING: Seems to be a very smart opportunity. 

CHARLIE ROSE: New business opportunity. 

KING: I liked what Barry said, "changing attitudes with sheer competence." Women, multi tasking. 

O'DONNELL: I just read recently that pot brownies can be dangerous. Where did I read that?

ROSE: I don't know.

O'DONNELL: The New York Times. Never mind. 

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