It’s never a good sign when a documentary on marijuana begins with an ad from Pfizer. But 60 Minutes decided to wade into the issue of recreational weed in Colorado, and they did so with the objectivity and nuance you’d expect for a show that appeals to viewers old enough to have ingested morphine-infused patent medicines. Were there sincerely delivered weed puns? Oh indeed there were, and they were as fresh as champagne spilling out the ass of Steve Kroft’s mistress.
Correspondent Bill Whitaker (seen above blending in seamlessly with the crowd at a marijuana party) started off this after school special for the AARP crowd by alerting nursing homes across the country that the ditch weed that they smoked in the 70’s is now been replaced by product that is “10 times stronger.” Of course that statement was made without any context about what that actually means for the end user, but it certainly sounds scary in the abstract to the average 60 Minutes viewer.
But Whitaker’s amazement at the burgeoning industry didn’t end at the party he was forced to attend. Later Whitaker wandered around an industrial grow house literally asking the owner insightful questions like “IS THIS LEGAL?” And later framing this complex news story with keen observations like THIS ISN’T SOMEONE’S BACKYARD??!!!” and “THESE AREN’T TOMATOES.” Of course these statements are ridiculous enough for anyone to make, but they are especially stupid coming from someone who went to graduate school in Berkley. Nevertheless Whitaker’s journey into the heart of dankness continued, and whoo boy did the he find a way to make things even worse.
You might have predicted Whitaker to badger the owner of a high-end grow operation about “the example she was setting for her daughter” (a line of questions that interestingly were never thrown at Bashar al-Assad when he was interviewed on the show), but the softballs he tossed at exasperated mustachioed cops were amazing for a show that once represented the vanguard of investigative journalism. Similarly they found time to mention the idiotic lawsuit filed against Colorado by Oklahoma and Nebraska, but without even a second of air time devoted to either the direct counter argument against the basis of the suit, or a bit about the larger reasons why those two retrograde states are pursuing such a baseless piece of litigation.
However the “best” part came with Colorado’s Pot Czar (who is a spitting image of Louis CK’s inept agent “Doug”). In that segment 60 Minutes allowed the dude to pontificate about how they “didn’t anticipate that people might overdose on edibles” — despite the fact that commercially available edibles have been available in California for over a decade. They even found a dead person to pin the “edible problem” on, ignoring the fact that the victim himself had illegally acquired the cookie (he was 19, two years younger than the age that Colorado allows for recreational marijuana use), and had eaten an entire cookie THAT WAS LABELED “6.5 servings”.
Perhaps it was a bit much to expect Whitaker’s segment to be anything other than awful, and maybe we should be happy that it ended on a begrudgingly accepting note instead of being thoroughly prohibitionist. Nevertheless it is a massive disservice to the viewers of the show, who would probably benefit from casting off some of their expensive prescriptions for some legal bud. But when a show is more or less underwritten entirely by big pharma, it is a small victory to get a correspondent to admit that “the sky isn’t falling” because someone is able to smoke a joint without going to prison for it.