CNBC’s Marijuana, Inc: Propaganda, Pot Porn, or Both?

They might as well have displayed a link to across the screen for an hour. CNBC's Marijuana, Inc. couldn’t have been more sensationalist if John Walters wrote the screenplay and Bill O’Reilly did the interviews. I’m serious, it was that bad.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how the casual observer may interpret a propaganda trainwreck such as this, but for me it crossed the threshold of absurdity to the point of almost becoming useful. If one factual concept emerged unscathed from this, it is that there is simply nothing you can do to stop the marijuana economy. Marijuana, Inc. painted California as a veritable narco-state, thrown into anarchy by liberal values and unscrupulous profiteers. If there’s a lesson in there other than the fact that our marijuana laws are a disaster, I must have missed it.

The great irony of this is that, whether they like it or not, CNBC is selling their product to the same exact market. Who do they think watches this stuff? Just turn off the sound and you’ve got sixty minutes of first-rate pot porno to accompany the musical selection of your choice. They used blatant pot porn to promote it, so they know exactly what they’re doing.

Something is seriously out of balance when CNBC puts out an obnoxious propaganda program, while simultaneously hosting an online poll that favors decriminalization at 97%. They even felt compelled to put this disclaimer on their comment section:

**As of this posting, CNBC has only received comments favoring decriminalization of marijuana.

Marijuana sells in the media for the same exact reason it sells in the street. The only difference is the media still feels the need to cut their marijuana merchandise with some nasty shit. If the mainstream media wants to sell us pot, that’s fine. But give it to us straight.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Access Trumps Truth

It's impossible for journalists to be unbiased, because they always have to avoid ruining their access to people who constantly supply them information.

Journalists and rationality will tell you that the quality of access basically equals the value of a journalist.

Since law enforcement consistently supplies newsworthy information before anyone else, we effectively end up with a state-run media.

The truth is the mainstream media, after studying the complete set of facts relevant to drug prohibition, by reporting that truth would naturally end up severely humiliating the people they rely on most.

Sadly for the mainstream media (wonderful for the rest of us), the Internet has exposed their bias and people are increasingly turning to other sources to get credible information (which is helping our movement dramatically by giving us real power, by the way).

If the reform movement would shift strongly towards achieving real power in part by gaining passionate public majority support before directly engaging our government, part of that shift would be leveraging the fading traditional mainstream media by convincing powerful journalists that revealing the truth regarding this massive corruption called drug prohibition would supply them an amount of credible newsworthy "fuel" that could make the O.J. Simpson trial seem like a blurb in comparison.

Working with the mainstream media and the public is the job of public relations experts, and the reform movement has shown very little interest in this area when it should be their dominating facet at this time.

The reform movement needs very strong public relations for the aforementioned reason in addition to greatly improving our public image to establish credibility with the many people who dismiss us as evil, people whose support we truly need.

Drug prohibition is still well-entrenched, because prohibitionists are severely kicking our ass on the public relations front.

Well put

Nicely said.

what a bust


i felt sorry for buddy who drove all the way from south carolina hoping to score a bud trimming job . think about what his friends are going to say to him when he gets back. what a bust.


Thank you for the most eloquent of submissions. Your assessment is right on point and the reform movement must be more creative in using all avenues to educate and promote this issue. It is scary to know that there is a portion of our population that believes pot is evil while condoning alcohol and tobacco. We need more free-thinkers.

Pleasantly surprised

I had very low expectations for this package and came away pleasantly surprised.

For a mainstream media outlet, that hardly ever does anything approaching journalism, I was pleasantly surprised at the objectivity and professionalism of the CNBC Marijuana Inc. report.

It was much better done than I had expected it would be.

The exposition of the tax revenues issues was informative and useful material that can now be used in debate of these issues.

The normalizing magnitude of the culture was very hopeful.

Closing the piece with a career narc sounding hopeless was priceless.

For the audience that CNBC works to this was a new perspective. Remember that Scott, this was not produced for pot smokers. It was produced for upper middle class monied America. And going to them it was not at all prohibitionist but more informative about an economy that, in these tough economic times, could be contributing more to America than it is today.

Remember, the reason that the U.S. congress went along with ending alcohol prohibition was because the depression significantly reduced tax revenues from the relatively new income tax of the day. Alcohol taxes relieved the tax base stresses of the time. Marijuana taxes, profits and general drug regulation could do the same today. Reformers should be taking advantage of opportunities, like the CNBC story, to work that angle.

The 1st drug war ended because FDR needed a drunk nation...

Profit in the form of taxes too often is the only justification for legislation... but without a drunk nation... and threats to disband the Supreme Court if they interfered again (by doing it's job - judicial review) helped to ensure socialism in the form of the new deal.

The new deal was another coercive mandate sold and bought by a drunk, irresponsible, nation as 'promoting the general welfare'!

Even the man himself, FDR, said his plan was not designed to be a long term solution to our nations perpetual crisis... yet we, our grandkids, and their grandkids, will be paying the interest on this note for eternity.

Imagine trying to plan for a viable future when so much has been wasted in the past!

That is funny

So, upon repeal of the Volstead Act, the entire nation, or at least a vast majority of it, started drinking to excess and stayed that way throughout the Roosevelt years.

You are one major heavy duty generalizing demonizer.


I only caught part of it on the sat radio. I only message I got was that the war on marijuana is a complete failure and should end.

Rather than attacking

This story reform should be looking to identify the same facts in other states across the nation and giving those facts exposure.

The fact that there are counties in California that would go belly up but for their pot economy should be major material for all reformers. I would love to have that kind of material to work with here in Pennsylvania. I try hard to expose the cost of criminalization and the potential tax benefits of reform but I have very little published material to work with.

In 2003 the U.N. published a number for the global annual retail value of the drug markets. $ 320-billion. Of that they said the U.S. is some 44%. I did a per capita and came to a Pennsylvania annual market value of nearly $6-billion in untaxed retail sales. This number helps persuade people who I discuss reform issues with. I wish I had more PA specific $ numbers to work with and am happy to have the $11-million state tax number for California. That is very valuable.

Significant Value Reduction

Did you factor in a significant value reduction, because the $320 billion estimate is based on black market pricing?

Ending drug prohibition in constitutional fashion would likely send that retail value plummeting, especially considering, for example, that high-quality marijuana can be grown in all 50 states.

Other states

I live in WA and it is a major grower of marijuana, and I challenge "the green triangle's" boast about growing the best pot in the land. The tastiest, stoniest weed I've had (I seldom settle for less than sticky, skunky greenbud) has always been grown locally, sometimes outdoors but more frequently indoors, due to our climate. Every time I've tasted weed from CA it's been brown, dry and harsh, not what I would term good bud.

Yes, it is a significant crop in this state but I do not have access to official numbers. I do know that it is not condensed into one particular part of the state but is spread all over, every county, every town.

CNBC'S Marijuana Inc and "Other States"

As a registered Medical Marijuana patient here in California, I can tell you that the marijuana available in California is of the utmost quality. In the "Valley" where I live, there are literally, no exageration, there are 8 dispenasaries/co-ops in a 2 mile radius...3 literally 500 feet from each other. It is a huge business here in Cali and the LAPD do not care...the DEA, that's another matter. My favorite shop has over 60 strains of the highest grade cannabis available and the prices are better than "street"...the shops pay tax to the city, state and everyone's happy. Sorry WA aint got nothin on Cali.

Cali is the Best in the West

Cali does have the bomb diggity chronic in the land! It's so fu(kin good we give it names! Blue Dreams, Sour Diesel, Super Silver Haze, OG Kush. True one hitter quitter man! Even got awesome shops to go pick out what you want for upward of 30 different strains. Come down and take the pepsi challenge, see what couch lock is all about!

[email protected]


Product value would decrease but so too would cost of police and prisons.

So there would be an increase in tax dollars and a decrease in tax burden.

Whatever the actual amount it would be an improvement over the current situation.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron recently published an analysis of the alternative economic and tax environments.

I have the PDF report on my web space at:

That's CNBC For You

CNBC focuses almost exclusively on topics having to do with wealth and in some cases, extraordinary wealth. Only CNBC would run a documentary called "Untold Wealth" on Christmas day, a day when so many families were probably mourning what was likely a lean bounty under their trees.

Therefore I'm not at all surprised this doc on Marijuana Inc. would come off with that same feel. All in all it reminded me of Lisa Lang's piece shown on NatGeo,but hers focused more on Canada's pot culture rather than ours here in the US.

I too am uncomfortable with the exploitation of marijuana however shows like that one may prompt the heavily monied to lobby for legalization so they can start trading it on Wall St. just like any other commodity.

Face facts-weed IS an industry and combined with all the other accroutrements which go along with it,it's a HUGE industry.

What boggled MY mind was how open it all was and how the DEA seemed to say there's nothing they can do. Meanwhile people are still getting busted and raided in other parts of the country. Talk about corruption.

Shows like this one and Marijuana Nation make me cringe because once big business gets ahold of something it seems nothing good ever comes out of it. However if it takes us one step closer to legalization or even decriminalization I'm not going to complain. One thing the show DID expose was the total uselessness of illegality.

CNBC's audience

is interested in consumer demand that it can profit from and growing industries that it can exploit.

The show Marijuana Inc. demonstrated strong consumer demand and a growing profitable market. If Wall Street gets behind drug policy reform it will happen very quickly because they do not like the government getting between them and money.

Private Power

Gonzalez v. Raich showed that drug prohibition is constitutional, because of the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

For those of you who may not know, way back in 1937, our judicial branch failed under pressure from the other two, abruptly and radically changing the judicial interpretation of the Commerce Clause, a change still in effect all these years later.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the radical change says that Congress can regulate anything having a substantial affect on commerce.

Human thought, which determines what, where, why, when, and how we buy and sell, always has a substantial affect on commerce.

The result?

If one uses drugs, one is having a substantial affect on commerce.

The private sector does not like our public servants controlling them with this radical "new" interpretation.

If we play our cards right, we could perhaps leverage the enormous power of most of the private sector and patriotic Americans against drug prohibition by publicly insisting that the original interpretation of the Commerce Clause be restored, given that the U.S. is a republic, which makes the Constitution king, not our public servants (including the 1937 judicial branch).

Clarence Thomas

Who is the commerce clause expert on the court denounced the decision in a scathing dissent.

"If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers." GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL. v. RAICH ET AL.

When's someone gonna do a show comparing danger of booze vs weed

Some honest reporting on that subject and the war on weed might be reeling. The scumbag NY Times claims to report all the news that's fit to print but they have never reported on the subject of alcohol v cannabis. Their public editors all refuse to even reply to repeated complaints about this longterm refusal to report on a clearly significant issue. No informed discussion= no informed policy.
Alcohol is so much more dangerous than weed to innocent life and limb and fetus and to the user's health that there is utterly no comparison. The stonewalling refusal of media and government to discuss the subject speaks louder than words. Demand full and open debate on the subject of alcohol vs. cannabis. People who refuse to discuss subjects tend to sound like jerks, the more their stonewalling becomes obvious, the better.
This is an argument about basic justice and equality but also about reducing the harm done by alcohol, and it supplements all the powerful arguments that legalization is the only way to knock down the power and violence of drug gangs.

cable went out!

During the time the family move was being discussed, we lost all signal! I missed the last 15 minutes of the program! I was really interested when the grade school principle was moving. She was worried about message to her kids!? She complained that the many kids' backpacks smelled because of the grows at home. She had no other substantiated reasons for leaving. I wonder what the areas population growth looked like!

I never dreamed of this lack of enforcement of grow operations . I thought the DEA would have been all over them! It would be a great place for a research study.

I never saw any report on the obvious. Was the use of MJ higher in the kids in that county's schools ? Were the students dropping out of school at a higher rate? Was there more selling going on in those schools? Very little, if any, research evidence was presented during the time I was able to watch it. This is exactly what would help . If the statistics were no different than any other part of the state, or any other part of the country, it would go along way in putting down the nay sayers that keep claiming use will go up if legalized. It would be interesting, also, to see the employment statistics for that county! I also wonder what the violent crime statistics look like. I tend not to believe anecdotal reports given by the LE involved in this program.

Dangerous ground... determining the harm... of all drugs!

I too want all the facts. And that will never happen because their drug of choice, alcohol, is socially acceptable despite the deadly statistics.

Hell, there can never be a critical debate on the relative harms of all drugs as long as they've essentially nationalized there drug as the american, legal, drug of choice.

Consider the denial of the drug addicts that abuse alcohol... they don't consider themselves drug addicts because they are special, more equal in fact, because they are christians... not someone addicted to the drug alcohol.

What wankers... but is it any wonder... considering the wanking nature of their religiously steeped philosophy... grounded in baseless faith.

It's truly hard for a sane humanist to understand the mental masturbatory tricks 80% of americans must have to play on themselves everyday and the massive harm this cognitive dissonance causes when it resonates through society !


One thing I notice, is the assumption that all Christians think the same! There is a group, of Christians, involved in the very actions that all of the others here on this site seek! Granted, most Christians have no idea what their Bible says about these things. What they do know, has been spoon fed to them. If they had actually read it, they would be able to discern the the truth. That is why the masses spout ignorant statements about drug prohibition. But, in the Bible, there is nothing on it! ( They actually used pot in the Old Testament ceremonies! look up cannabis in anointing oil) Neither is there prohibition of alcohol, yet there are rants about how the wine was actually "grape juice"! All because people don't learn the truth for themselves. (Sorry Baptists)

I recently saw a Muslim guy giving a speech on youtube about how the skinheads were so crazy. Then in the next breath used them as an excuse to condemn Christianity. Point is, the skinheads no more represent Christians than the radical Muslims represent true Islam! People on both sides have hid behind religion to maintain their bigotry! It starts wars!

Because I am a fundamentalist Christian, don't think that I agree with all of these non-supported, what I call "legalistic", views. The bible did not prohibit the use of alcohol because, in all His wisdom, God knew that it would not stop men from wanting to alter their consciousness. Men of the Bible actually talk of the use of "strong drink" for the "mourning". It also talks of wine for the stomach. And in the Greek , it says WINE (oino)! Not grape juice. Grape juice would not have kept for long, anyway!

Please don't use ignorance and bigotry when talking about this crazy drug war. Enough people have died because of those two sins! It is not supported by the people who really know what the Bible says.

I realize you might misconstrue my thoughts. I realize you feel my faith is baseless. I am not trying to convert anyone. I am just trying to point out that ignorance is still the thing that drives a lot of those, who fight against us. That includes, way too many, ignorant people, including "Christians". Like the ones you refer to, who will argue until you are blue in the face that they are not drug addicts, if they are alcoholics! That shows the insanity of their thoughts. We need to join together, not divide the troops!

Peace to you.


I watched Marijuana Inc expecting a rehash of tiresome propaganda. Surprisingly, I found the program seemed to present both sides in better balance than the average treatment; however, still weighted more on the "con" side of open marijuana production.
I especially enjoyed the class room coverage and the interview with a cannabis growing student who described herself as a responsible person working as a real estate agent with a husband employed in construction. She's aspiring to realize a career in cannabis cultivation someday.
The program inspired my own latent ambitions to become a farmer, as well. I only hope our government will wake up soon so those such as myself might pursue their dreams without risking unjust punishment and being labeled criminals.
The sight of those beautiful plants and listening to their growers' comments gives me hope. In the meantime, I will continue to dream green....kj

Ukiah Local

I hope the DEA resumes spraying of paraquat on MJ grows. CNBC got it right.

Re: Ukiah Local

I hope your right under the spray pattern to. Its obvious there is no mental function for the spray to effect on your part.


"The scumbag NY Times claims to report all the news that's fit to print but they have never reported on the subject of alcohol v cannabis."

Why must we always attack other drugs to make a point? I don't care if you use pot. Leave my drug of choice alone.

PS. This image verification system is f-cked up. I type it in correctly and yet it always tells me I was wrong the first and second time.


While I don't believe in an "attack" on alcohol (it can be properly used or abused like anything else), one reason to highlight the comparison between legal alcohol and illegal marijuana is to clearly show everyone that public servants have been arbitrary, which in the U.S. is supposed to be outrageous.

Unlike our Founding Fathers who sacrificed their lives against power abuse, Americans for decades have effectively done nothing, but let the Constitution, the rule of law in this republic, become meaningless for the sake of our "public servants".

cannabis vs alcohol

Alcohol causes perception problems, especially with keyboards. That could be the reason for bad first and second entries lol

Interest Must be Generating

Originally the show was going to air last night and Sunday night but now they've got it on their site as airing 4 additional times besides:

Sunday at 10P est
Mon. Feb 16 11PM est
Mon Feb 23 9PM and 1AM

CNBC needs to do their homework.

I guess no publicity is bad publicity, but I couldnt believe how they made it seem so violent. Pitbulls and guns and baseball bats? Some of the other odd things I noticed were: she said how the bud was "chopped up and made into marijuana" as if she thought they altered it somehow. And when talking to the smuggler, she said "300,000 lbs worth" like they are bringin in the whole plant and trimmin it here, lol. Also cracked me up when she said that it was the "liberal hippies" who figured out how to make pot profitable. And sorry to nitpick so much, but pot is not "completely legal" in Amsterdam as she stated. Its odd that they didnt do any reasearch on hardly anything besides how much $ it makes.But oh well. Its a start I guess. I feel sorry for those kids who think they are gonna get rich from trimming!!!

re "alcohol"

I won't leave your drug of choice alone because it causes too much catastrophic damage. Even if the status of weed were normalized, we'll still need to reduce the reign of terror committed by some alcoholic abusers, though I think some alchol abusers would shift, or should be ordered to shift by the legal system, to cannabis if it became legal. I understand that most users of alcohol are totally responsible people, perhaps I can do a better job of clarifying that in the future.
I'll be happy to leave your responsible use of alcohol alone, but overall the drug is a problem child that needs attention, despite limited improvement over the years. Alcohol users have rights and privileges cannabis users can only dream of, and in spite of this, their average behavior includes far more violence, recklessness and sadism. A real war on drug abuse, as opposed to the current war on selected drugs, should involved intensified efforts against alcohol related serious harm.

Proper Use Versus Abuse

An open and free society doesn't exist. Why?

Because humanity in general continues to focus on banning activities solely because of the damage resulting from abuse (ignoring the fact that the effort to ban is ironically the greatest abuse against liberty).

For the sake of liberty, humanity needs to focus on abuse itself, not that which is abused.

Abuse is the result of ignorance. Ignorance of what? Ignorance of how to use something properly, or ignorance of proper stress management.

To defeat ignorance, there are two options, education or coercion.

If humanity's (or the rest of nature's) ability to educate is insufficient, then coercion takes center stage.

To have an open and free society, education must be effective, because coercion is the antithesis of liberty.

To educate the ignorant, one must entertain properly (not an easy task, but certainly possible).

The reform movement should play a strong role in advancing education about proper drug use (including alcohol) and stress management for the mainstream public, helping prevent many people from falling into the abuse trap.

Instead of mainly complaining about the collateral damage of drug prohibition (which prohibitionists simply counter that naturally-damaging-drugs are to blame), the reform movement could score a lot of points with the public by taking on the effort to eliminate abuse, success undermining any perceived need for prohibition and giving us a better society.

ukiah local: go have another drink of your favorite drug

thanks for caring so much about liberty and equality

Re: "Re: Ukiah local"

Are you aware of the four misspellings in your short post? Not that big a deal, ideas are more important,but when you're trying to do a hit job on an 'enemy' post, it doesn't add to the power of your words.

I'll step in them, and you won't have to worry about spelling...

See, it's a general rule that when one can't refute a person's argument with LOGIC, one becomes a grammar nazi and condemns people for misspellings. But, wait, there are better ways for you to spend your time - become a DRUG WARRIOR!!! Get paid to ruin lives and poison the environment!

Are you aware that if you don't like cannabis, you could do something to stop it besides bitching on a forum where people like you aren't really appreciated?

Why not become a one-man raiding team and clean up the streets yourself? You think spraying paraquat is a good idea? I guess you don't care that it poisons everything it touches, and that you'll be drinking it and ingesting it...

Go to Home Depot and buy yourself a sprayer. Load it up with the pesticide of your choice and go to town! March through the coastal forests, spray all the evil cannabis plants, call the cops on the local growers, and go home and enjoy a cigar and a couple six-packs or a nice bottle of local wine! Pat yourself on the back for a "job well done..."

"E" for effort

I sort of had to bite my tongue while watching the segment.
Ok. So I wasn't really impressed, and managed to watch about five minutes of it (but that is because I found the news format style over-dramatic and content somewhat uninteresting and predictable/dull).
Although, I suppose it's a progressive step for CNBC, to talk about such a 'controversial' topic..and I guess its a baby step towards educating television viewers about the drug/industry and culture behind the drug.
I am hopeful though, perhaps watching this television show will inspire people to pick up a book or (order one) to learn more about this issue (or any other topic for that matter).

Actually "I'll step in them", I wasn't condemning the mispelling

And I'm not a marijuana hater, I'm a marijuana prohibition and drug war hater. I think there is a big difference being noting and condemning. I totally agree with his argument that Ukiah local is far gone, my motive was to point out, I think accurately, that so many errors in a short post detracts from the power of the post, at least in the eyes of some of the people you're trying to convince. This especially applies when your post is meant to be a scathing response to a post you disliked. As I said, I don't think misspellings aren't the most important thing in the world, but there's nothing wrong with proofreading and googling spelling and meanings (affect/effect) when you're not sure either.

too bad informed public opinion doesn't get to decide

"As of this posting, CNBC has only received comments favoring decriminalization of marijuana." Yeah no wonder, between the ever more obvious (thanks to medicinal marijuana for one thing) comparison with far more dangerous alcohol, the worse than ever news about prohibition related violence, the current 'little' economic and budget deficit problems, and a pretty thorough collapse of rightwing credibility along with them, or maybe I'm dreaming about the last item.

CNBC: the new Faux News

I had to stop watching this program about 15 minutes in. This propaganda peice would have found a better home on Fox news. Do they actually think that an average citezen would believe that homes of Marijuana growers are being burnt down due to Marijuana smoking. And the whole segment on the enviormental issues was completely ridculous.


marijuana is a plant... at what point between seed and bud does satan rise up and voodoo it into a drug?

m inc sucked donkey butt

man that was the biggest waste of time.

dont even bother watching this crap, check out the brown dirt warrior instead:

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