American Morning

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April 14th, 2009
01:34 PM ET

Insatiable demand – Americans want their pot!

CNN's Kiran Chetry speaks to Fmr. DEA Agent Bob Strang and author Juan Hernandez about America's drug addiction.
CNN's Kiran Chetry speaks to Fmr. DEA Agent Bob Strang and author Juan Hernandez about America's drug addiction.

Happy Tuesday. All this week on American Morning, we're breaking down America's drug addiction and how it's helping fuel the violence spilling over the border.

This morning we looked at the 8.5 billion dollar business of marijuana.

In her report this morning, Jeanne Meserve dug deeper into the issue and found marijuana is the cash cow for cartels with revenue eclipsing cocaine, heroin and meth combined. Watch the story

But how do you stop the supply when there's such a massive demand?  Opinions are mixed.  There's a small but vocal lobby to legalize marijuana, tax it, and cut out the cartels by bringing the dealing and regulation to Main Street. 

Others say it has to start with education about the dangers of drug use, tougher enforcement and targeting of the actual cartel king pins. That's where enhancing our relationship with Mexico comes in. 

Here's a look at the debate this morning with Juan Hernandez, who once advised former Mexican President Vicente Fox. He also wrote "The New American Pioneers". We were also joined by Bob Strang, a former special agent with the DEA. Watch the debate

We also got some great comments from our viewers following us on Twitter and calling into the show hotline.

Our amFIX poll asked, do you think the United States should legalize drugs?  Here are the results so far:

  • No way – 8%
  • Yes, all drugs – 48%
  • Only marijuana – 44%
    Remember, this is not a scientific poll.

Don't miss tomorrow when we bring on Congressman Ron Paul in our 7am ET hour.  He's a fierce advocate for personal liberties. Paul says we should legalize drugs and that personal freedom means we are also free to make bad choices. Do you agree? Please weigh in as always.

See you in the morning,


Filed under: CNN Heroes • Drugs
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. rob

    put me in jail i smoke pot!

    April 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  2. Andrew Cameron

    Strang strangely says it's just a law enforcement problem! Clearly he seems to think we're not putting as many millions of people in prison as he wants.

    This is just more of the same society-splitting propaganda: "us 'good' them 'bad.'"

    False prophets before alcohol prohibition said prohibition would solve society's ills. They felt the need to force their wills, likes, and dislikes, on others. This is the crux of the problem, that "my tastes and spices are pure, but your tastes and spices are evil."

    Want to see even more caving in of society? Continue to feed the for-profit prison system, do what the death agents and their thugs want—shoot-on-sight drug dealers without trial, escalate everything into a national crisis, allow them to unconstitutionally shove their perception of morals on everyone, spend many more hundreds of billions of dollars trashing other countries and enriching weapons vendors trying to outgun "the enemy."

    Want to read what Law Enforcement has to say about this travesty?
    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

    Want to read a Christian perspective on the evils of prohibition?

    April 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  3. Serenden J Whitaker

    Bottom line we spend more money prohibiting marijuana then we would legalizing, growing, producing its many uses along with its main use, and taxing it. jobs would be created for farmers groing cannabis and factory workers fabricating its many uses such as textile, paper, clothes, feed, bedding, oil, skin care products, cooking herbs, insulation and so on.

    When people talk about how much it would cost to produce cannabis they don't factor in the many uses it has and how those can also be taxed and sold to generate revenue, not only the growing and smoking of the plant. cannabis financially could do more than sustain itself, revenue generated from cannabis could be put back into the growing and fabricating of cannabis, not only that but the rest of the money could fund rehabilitation programs, go to charity, or even just funneled back into the govt. too help pick up the economy.

    If money is the biggest issue and not the well being of Americans not to mention the Mexicans, its a very sad time. the govt. is supposed to help its people and its friends, but keeping this "plant" (I refused to any longer call cannabis a drug for the simple fact that its nowhere near the level that cocaine or heroine is on) illegal is just forcing Americans and any other consumer to purchase from drug cartels and give them more power that is used to kill, and purchase more weapons.

    Prohibition of cannabis has fuels drug cartel wars, kept our own drug dealers selling and killing, imprisoned many NON-VIOLENT so called drug offenders and we spend $1000's in tax payer dollars on housing these non-violent offenders, and has kept one of the safest medicinal substances out of reach of the ones who truly need it. above all that, the govt. refuses Americans jobs for the production and fabrication of cannabis.

    yes cannabis is one of the safest medicinal substances because people have never over dosed on cannabis, they have on things like Excedrin or Tylenol, and morphine is legal yet its just about as dangerous as heroine and even more addictive than cigarettes. the dietary, anti-depression, and pregnancy pills that's readily available to everyone has side effects such as: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, organ failure, etc. and yet cannabis, which only has the side effect of hunger, a state of euphoria, and in some cases sleepiness, has not had a case of cancer, organ failure, or overdose. Alcohol poisoning, cancer, addiction, overdose, and dependency are often cases that occur due to the ingestion of alcohol, cigarettes, or your over the counter drugs. Cannabis is not addicting, i know a multitude of people that have stopped smoking on their own,

    I could go on and on about this subject, but until you do the research you will never fully and truly understand the cannabis plant and its variety of uses, and just how truly safe it is to use, in most of all cases the safest. go to the link i have provided below and you will see the myths of marijuana and the facts that about those myths.

    peace and love to you all

    If your going to fight for the legalization of marijuana please bring an intelligent argument and study the whole aspect of the subject before you actually say something because its those "gibberish" arguments like, "weed should be legalized because it makes you feel good and makes movies better", that make the ones that are actually trying to say something look bad. show your intelligence and that "pot heads" aren't in the least bit as ignorant the opposition in that they don't want to hear the pros to the legalization. there are cons to the legalization, yes there is, but those cons are greatly out weighed by pros.. so just study on the subject and then bring your argument.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  4. SteveOfPanamaCity

    The war on drug's is the biggest farce in american history beside's prohibition of alchohol , didn't take them no 70+ year's to figure out the solution either. Truth be told , our government wants it to be illegal or else they cant rake in as much money for the good ol boy's in washinton or sell thousand's of firearm's fueled by the prohibition trade to fill the "cookie jar" . Look who's funding the insanity and that just about say's it all.

    Funding : Alchohol/tobacco/pharmacuitical company's and im sure there's alot more not to mention the anti-drug campaign figurehead's losing there high paying government posistions.

    The only good thing i can say ive seen about all the recent talk is the truth seem's to finally be coming to light and even funnier. The anti-drug figurehead's who ive recently viewed are all but stumped on how to disagree with legalization when u tell them there billions of doller's of taxpayer money for these efforts are something short of rediculesly futile.

    End prohibition for a better america and end the war on people at the same time.... what a beautiful thought.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  5. michael armstrong sr.

    americans want there pot .well maybe theres a way to kill two birds with one stone how about this we help the somolies by buying all there tweek and let every body chew on tweek instead of smoking weed ive never tried tweek before whats it like?

    April 15, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  6. Eric Hagen

    Look at the percentages give us our pot!!!

    April 15, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  7. L. Patrick Patterson

    It is important to remember in this war on drugs that it is the proscription of especially marijuana that causes the problems in our society and NOT the drug itself. To the detriment of law abiding citizens and governments around the world, this multi-billion dollar market goes to help organized crime rather than generating taxes. Remember, it was the prohibition of alcohol in the 1930's that created the mob. And it it that same prohibition against marijuana et al that has created a vast majority all the drug problems that we see around the world. And it it America that ensures the maintenance of prohibition and this damaging civil war being waged on marijuana.

    April 15, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  8. Del Jones


    Each foreign land, has it’s own brand
    There is of course, home-grown.
    Most of it’s grand, easy to stand,
    With some, your mind is blown.

    It’s found it’s way, smoked every day,
    In every walk of life.
    From working men, to congressmen,
    Even the preacher's wife.

    It can cause good highs, strange looking eyes,
    It will make your mouth feel dry.
    Makes food taste good, and music understood,
    Make you laugh until you cry.

    You can talk to others, it calms the nerves,
    Helps you be as you are.
    But like a drink, so don’t you think
    That you can drive a car.

    You’ll feel each bump, rattle and thump,
    Slow down a block away
    For a yellow light, want left, turn right,
    You might even lose your way.

    You’ll tend to forget, the end of it,
    Whatever, you were saying.
    You can look down, towards the ground
    And see that you are swaying.

    A lover’s touch, can mean so much,
    Send shivers down your spine,
    And when in bed, what can be said,
    Except, that it is so fine.

    To help eyesight, ease cancer’s plight,
    And who knows, maybe more.
    Good things to come, from that plant some
    Of those, ignorant, ignore.

    It’s made illegal, the paper eagle
    Is spent to promote crime.
    It could be sold and be controlled
    Don’t you think it’s about time.

    So, maybe some day, under table pay
    Won’t stop legalization.
    But, until then, with a silly grin
    We will just bear our frustration.

    Del “Abe” Jones

    April 15, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  9. Erik

    Marijuana should be legalized. When I used to use pot I never blacked out. You always hear about someone drinking too much and blacking out from alcohol. I never had a "pot fit" like you have "nic fits" with cigarrettes. Smoking Cigarrettes is as highly as addictive as heroin. Why has smoking not been banned? Lastly, children get their pot illegally from other children they know in High School and College. If legalized, they would need to be at least 18 or 21 to be able to purchase/use it.

    April 15, 2009 at 7:48 am |
  10. Yeagerhood

    If legalized, will there be DUI's for driving while smoking pot? Will there be public intox arrest made? Why not decriminalized it so that a legitimate pot-head can grow good plants for personal use.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:35 am |
  11. Mark

    CNN please take note that there are businesses counting on keeping marijuana illegal and ruining peoples lives to keep it that way. I would say the numbers are wrong from my life experiences. A majority of this country does smoke marijuana far more than 40% I hate to tell you. Our childern will have far less exposure to marijuana if it were sold behind counters instead of in their schools if that is anyones argument against legalization. Yes legalization does send a message to our childern in a sense but what do you think about your childern being fed beer commericals everytime they turn on the television, is there anything to say about that?

    April 15, 2009 at 2:42 am |
  12. Mark

    Prohibition is pointless most importaintly in the fact that everyone who wants to smoke marijuana, work under the influence, drive under the influence (which i strongly disagree with) and live their lives under the influence without the majority of their surrounding population even knowing they are under the influence ALREADY DOES. And when it comes to the message we want to send to our childern, do we really want to tell them that Phelps, Obama, Clinton, and most certainly a lot of people the average person knows should be in prison for choosing a safer alternative to EVERY RECREATIONAL DRUG KNOWN.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:34 am |
  13. Deborah AKA The Vocal Citizen

    Rep. Ron Paul,

    Would you support or sponsor a national vote initiative, allowing the citizenry to vote in a special election on whether or not to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis?
    I believe this is the only way the federal government will be able to legitimize the issue while saving their political hides.

    Let the People vote! My petition:

    April 15, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  14. Sean K.

    Here are two questions I would ask a DEA agent if I had the chance:

    "Considering the effects of the 1919 alcohol prohibition, do you think that the mass increases in violence and corruption was caused by alcohol or alcohol prohibition?

    Do you, honestly, believe that the cannabis plant has NO medical usage and belongs as a schedule 1 drug with the likes of heroin, crack-cocaine, L.S.D., and methamphetamine?"

    If he responds with a 'no' to the second question, I would pat him on the back. If he answered 'yes' (which he probably would, followed by a speech about "the gateway effect) I would scoff and then provide over 5,000 years of proof of medical usage of cannabis. Then I would ask him for the proof on how cannabis has some magical power to make people want to do harder drugs.

    April 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  15. Kirk Muse

    Marijuana prohibition is the problem–not the answer.
    How much crime do we have related to the drug caffeine do we have? None. Absolutely none. Why? It is legal.

    We have very little drug crime. What we have is prohibition caused crime.

    April 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  16. Eron

    My god if this is the best CNN has to offer on this then go back to telling everybody what the first lady is doing or what she is wearing. Why does CNN see if Entertainment news will come on and help them with this. Get a host who will ask smart questions and does not mind what some people will think. CNN grow a back bone and show both sides of the story. Try allowing a good amount of time on this subject. Do not hurry it so you can get to the story of the stupid dog that the first family is getting that is not news.

    April 14, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  17. William

    I just noticed after viewing the "debate" a second time, that this Bob Strang fellow who reccommends the failed DARE program as part of the solution to America's marijuana problem is currently the CEO of DARE. Nice one CNN. Why don't you have on Sen. Jim Webb who is sponsering a bill peniding that would review and analzye our criminal and drug policies. If Webb's bill passes, we will finally have hearings on this issue and the findings won't be flattering to our elected officials.

    Today's guests are laughable since they both agreed that we need to do more of the same. And when a guest makes a ridiculous remark like Mexico is doing a wonderful job fighting the drug war, get a host who will challenge these idiotic statements. It's almost as though they was no prescreening of these bozos. CNN you can do better!

    April 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm |