CNBC presents “Marijuana USA,” a CNBC Original reported by Trish Regan, that takes viewers back inside the flourishing pot industry—as the world’s most commonly used illicit drug comes out of the shadows and into mainstream. As more states pass laws permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the once vilified weed is being met with a newfound acceptance. Some hope—and others fear—the whole country may soon be going to pot.
Correspondent Trish Regan reports from Colorado, where a new and thriving marijuana industry is infusing much-needed capital and jobs into a weak economy. In Colorado, this fast growing business is attracting a new generation of marijuana entrepreneurs—savvy, young professionals emerging from the unlikely fields of finance, biotechnology, government and medicine—who are re-branding pot as a natural herbal remedy and selling it openly in dispensaries all over town.
The state now has more pot dispensaries than it does Starbucks, and authorities not only sanction the drug, but also regulate, license, and tax it, like any other product.
But, even as fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow for medical marijuana, the drug remains in clear violation of federal laws. Federal law enforcement officers and anti-drug officials vow they will not surrender. CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, travels to the frontlines of America’s weed wars—from the fierce political campaign to legalize the drug in California to the ambitious air and ground campaign to search for marijuana plots deep in the mountainous terrain of eastern Kentucky.
CNBC’s Regan speaks with Lieutenant Brent Roper, the commander of Kentucky’s marijuana strike force, who swears that Kentucky will be the last state to ever legalize marijuana as just another taxable commodity.
Regan also takes viewers to Portugal—the first country in the world to fully decriminalize the possession of all drugs. She speaks with Joao Goulao, Portugal’s drug czar and the chief architect of this strategy, about the country’s unique and radical drug policy.
Looking further into the business of marijuana, CNBC takes viewers inside a busy medical clinic near Denver, CO, where marijuana is almost always the doctor’s order. Dr. James Boland, a physician of twenty-five years, works for a clinic that has brought in more than a million dollars in just its first year of business, attracting patients in search of a medical marijuana license. But, although it’s a profitable business, the jury is still out among researchers and doctors as to whether marijuana really is an effective treatment option.
CNBC.com has added new stories to its comprehensive special report, “Marijuana & Money,” which, through the lens of business, thoroughly examines the state of marijuana in America, including the costs and impact – both positive and negative – that legalization might have on the economy, government and, ultimately, the consumer.
New topics addressed include the “Hydroponics Boom,” which looks at how the manufacture, distribution and retail of hydroponics equipment has become a nearly half-billion business; the explosive growth of “Marijuana Testing Labs;” and a profile of Mile High Ice Cream, a company that has found a tasty way to capture some of Colorado’s fast-growing medical marijuana market.