Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Boston Bombing Victim, Kevin White; Explosion in Damascus; Colorado's New Frontier: Marijuana; Jason Collins' Jersey Sales on Fire

Aired May 1, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York stock exchange. Tell us what you are seeing.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing a very slow start to the trading day so far, that's after the S&P 500 closed at yet another all-time high on Tuesday. It was a great April for stocks. You look at the Dow, the NASDAQ, and S&P they each added almost 2 percent last month. The question for May, will investors do as the old adage says sell in May and go away. Because this is traditionally the beginning of the weakest part of the year for stocks. Investors literally are more focused on vacation, more so than their portfolios. They wind up pulling their money out of the market around this time of the year, so they don't have to worry about it.

But, the difference is the fed continues to pump so much money into the economy that many believe if there is a drop this year it won't be as deep as in years past. Today investors are reading over the ABP (ph) jobs report and it shows employers added over 119,000 private sector jobs last month. It's weaker than expected and could be a factor keeping gains in check today, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik reporting live at the New York stock exchange.

Drugs prescribed for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are facing more scrutiny. That's according to the "New York Times." The paper says many colleges are tightening rules on diagnosis and treatment. Some schools require students to sign contracts saying they will not misuse or share their pills.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California has announced plans to hold hearings on the April explosion that killed 15 people in the town of West, Texas. Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. Boxer says she'll look at whether chemical safety laws are being enforced and if they need any strengthening.

The investigation in Boston goes on as victims continue to grapple with the fact that they are now victims of a terrorist attack. I was in Boston yesterday and sat down with Kevin White who still has difficulty walking and is now caring for his parents. Both of them were wounded in the attack. Kevin's dad lost his leg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEVIN WHITE, BOSTON BOMBING VICTIM: We decided to go in on a whim because all of the events that were going on, get some lunch, kind of see the city. And we just finished eating and were walking down Boylston and just stopping and starting and watching the race and watching people at the finish line. And suddenly everything changed. It was extremely unexpected. And it was something we didn't think was going to happen, obviously.

COSTELLO: So the bomb went off and what happened to you physically?

WHITE: So we were, judging from a lot of the photos we have seen, we were probably within six to eight feet of where it detonated. I got thrown backwards away from the street towards the shop fronts and I basically landed almost next to them. I landed on my hands and knees. And there was glass from the windows all over me on the ground. There was a large flash which was blinding. And then everything went black.

When I kind of came to after a couple of seconds there was a smell of gun powder or fireworks in the air and gray smoke everywhere. People were starting to scream. It was just chaos at that point in time. As I got up everyone was kind of running from the scene. People were just kind of herding each other up and down the sidewalk. I ended up going up Boylston and was pushed into a cell phone store where people were regrouping and reassessing what their injuries were. I had a lot of cuts at that point that was bleeding pretty badly so someone appeared with a wheelchair and wheeled me to the triage center. So that was kind of at that moment that myself and my parents all got separated.

COSTELLO: When you first heard your father's voice --

WHITE: I didn't hear my father's voice for several days because he was pretty much sedated, intubated as well. So it wasn't until I got out of the hospital that I went with my brother to see him. It was the first time I saw him and talked to him, as well.

COSTELLO: Was it a phone call with your mom and then you talked in different hospitals, or were you in the same?

WHITE: I found out where she was through a lot of my friends and my brother. They did a great job of figuring out where people were. And I went from my hospital to her hospital. So we were in the same hospital for two days.

COSTELLO: How are you feeling?

WHITE: Physically I have pain in my legs. Standing for long periods of time is difficult. I get tired a lot. But all in all I'm feeling a lot better than I was a week ago. And out of the three of us I probably was injured the least so I'm just thankful that we're all alive. But physically I think over the next month I will be much better. I know my mom is making great steps every day.

COSTELLO: Can you tell me why your legs are weak? What happened in the blast that affected your legs? WHITE: I got hit with a lot of shrapnel. It caused massive swelling and bruising all up and down my legs, basically from my waist down to my ankles. It is hard just to stand, putting weight on my legs for long periods of time. The swelling really bothers me. If I bump into something it is really painful. But it is mostly the swelling from the wounds. That will heal over time.


COSTELLO: And Kevin pulled up his pants leg to show me some of the wounds. They have scabs over them now but they are this big. They are huge. You can understand why he still has trouble walking.

In the next hour of NEWSROOM, we will have more with my interview with Kevin White. I asked him how he is dealing with being a terror victim on U.S. soil and what he thinks about the suspects in this case. It is not what you might think.

I also want to put up a website because his friends have set up a fund. Kevin's father has lost his leg. They are going to have medical bills for some time. We're not talking not weeks, not months, but for years and years. If you would like to donate is the fund and there's also going to be a 5k race held to raise money. I'll tell you more in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

A new report suggests the United States may be preparing to boost its support for rebel fighters in Syria. Coming up, what that new assistance could include.


COSTELLO: It is 40 minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories. Testimony resumes in a little more than two hours in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. A police detective says he believes Dr. Conrad Murray's financial situation may have led him to, quote, "break the rules" during Jackson's treatment. The Jackson family is suing concert promoter AEG Live. The Jacksons say AEG hired Dr. Murray. AEG says Michael Jackson hired the doctor.

Crews in New York City are about to remove part of a wing from one of the planes from the 9/11 terror attack. That part found last week near the World Trade Center Site in lower Manhattan. Medical examiners are also ramping up their search of the area for possible human remains. It is not known if they have found anything in their search.

Rising political tensions turn into an all-out brawl in Venezuela's national assembly. One Venezuelan congresswoman told CNN she was attacked from behind and thrown to the floor. Opposition groups have been protesting recently announced presidential election results. Wow.

Let's turn our attention to Syria's civil war. A new report suggests the Obama administration is preparing to start arming the opposition. According to the "Washington Post" planning for a weapon shipment coincides with efforts to convince Russia that Bashar al Assad's regime likely has used chemical weapons against rebel fighters. Let's head to Damascus now and check in with Fred Pleitgen. Fred, bring us up to date with what you know.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT : There was an explosion just a couple of minutes ago here in Damascus. I can tell you - or I can show you actually as you look behind me there is a huge plume of smoke rising up over central Damascus right now. This happened just a couple of minutes ago.

We are getting initial reports from the blast site that apparently police station was hit there. We are trying to get reports on whether or not there are wounded, whether or not there are killed. We have some reports suggesting that there's been up to a dozen people killed in that incident. Others are saying that there are several people wounded, but it certainly looks like a major, major explosion that took place just recently in central Damascus, the heart of the Syrian capital.

I have been here for the third day now and this is the third major bomb attack that has happened in central Damascus. That goes to show how the civil war is creeping and seeping into the Syrian capital and affecting the people that live here more than ever before during this conflict, Carol.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about the possible use of chemical weapons because President Obama has called the use of such weapons a red line and that is a quote. But the president also says he still needs more proof. What exactly is he looking for?

PLEITGEN: Well, he is certainly looking for something that would address with some degree of certainty that these weapons were used and that they were used by Bashar al Assad's forces and that they were used by Bashar al Assad's forces deliberately to attack civilians among the opposition.

Now, one of the things that the Obama administration has been saying is that they are not sure whether or not some of the chemical agents might be released by accident, because of some sort of accident that happened within the ranks of the Syrian military, whether or not there is some sort of break in the chain of custody and whether or not some of the weapons may have fallen into other hands. They want to be certain that it was Bashar al Assad's force whose used the weapons deliberately against civilians on this side of the opposition.

Right now the Obama administration is not fully sure that that is the case. The Syrian government is saying that it would never use these kinds of weapons against civilians even on the other side of the equation. The country's (AUDIO BREAK) ambassador to the U.N. said yesterday that would not be the case. People we have been speaking to here in Damascus say they're somewhat unsure. Most people say they believe that any talk of the government using chemical weapons against civilians is a ploy by the opposition.

COSTELLO: All right, Fred Pleitgen, we will check with you to find out about the explosion that just happened moments ago behind you.

Still ahead, marijuana is a booming business in Colorado. It will only get bigger with recreational pot sales. It's leaving many marijuana business owners feeling kind of nervous. We will tell you why.


COSTELLO: In the 1800's Colorado was known as the new frontier. Well, that same term might apply now because of marijuana. Recreational pot will be available in stores legally starting next January. And there are hundreds of business owners trying to make a living on shaky ground.

Jim Spellman has more for you.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Like many small business men Shaun Gindi has employees, a warehouse, retail stores and his fair share of headaches.

SHAUN GINDI, COMPASSIONATE PAIN MANAGEMENT: I make this business work pay check to pay check.

SPELLMAN: But his product is anything but usual -- Gindi grows and sells marijuana.

GINDI: So this is what a flower room looks like.

SPELLMAN: He grows the cannabis in his warehouse in Denver and has two medical marijuana dispensaries in the suburbs.

GINDI: I have about 20 people working for me. They do anything from growers to trimming to working as caregivers in the stores.

SPELLMAN: So far his business has been limited to medical marijuana selling only to Colorado residents with a doctor's recommendation and state issued red card. But last year voters passed Amendment 64 legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

The state is still working out regulations ahead of January 2014 when recreational marijuana stores are expected to open. Dispensaries like Gindi's are expected to be able to convert and sell to anyone over 21 but there are several catches.

(on camera): This is still against federal law. That must create an unbelievable amount of stress for you.

GINDI: Yes. It does. I am talking to you right now. There is a voice in the back of my head that there is an innate nervousness to being in this business.

SPELLMAN (voice over): A bill in Congress would bar the federal government from going after people in states that have legalized marijuana. But it's unclear if the bill has a chance of becoming law.

(on camera): Are you afraid that all that you built here will be taken away from you?

GINDI: Yes. I can't even keep my face straight right now saying that that's such a real fear.

SPELLMAN (voice over): Nate Laptegaard, runs the warehouse.

(on camera): I want to learn more about exactly how you grow marijuana on essentially in an indoor farm. So where does it start?


SPELLMAN: With cuttings known as clones --

LAPTEGAARD: Get a little gel on there.

SPELLMAN: -- that go into these tanks for about two weeks and then into this room for about five weeks under simulated sunlight in a CO2 rich environment.

(on camera): Each of these plants gets its own bar code.

LAPTEGAARD: That's right, every single plant when it comes out of the corner, once it gets into here it's coded individually. And we're able to trace that plant from this stage all the way to the end product.

SPELLMAN: Then the light is cut back to simulate the shorter days of autumn, triggering the plants to flower and finally it's off to be trimmed and dry. The entire process is regulated by the state. After a criminal background check employees are issued a Colorado marijuana worker ID card. Every time a plant is moved the employee log at using this software; a fingerprint scanner tracks the employees at every turn.

LAPTEGAARD: There's no scar face here. There's no AK-47, there's none of that stuff. We have inspectors from the state in here all the time.

SPELLMAN: Even though Gindi pays sales and income tax, marijuana is still against federal law so expenses cannot be deducted from federal taxes and FDIC-backed banks won't take their money.

GINDI: But there's nothing glamorous about this business. It's been a struggle trying to operate without a bank account trying to run a business without being on the state deductions.

SPELLMAN: At his dispensary Gindi operates in a highly competitive marketplace. About 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado compete for the business of the 108,000 people under medical marijuana registry.

(on camera): Have they become more connoisseurs about their marijuana?

LEAH, BUDTENDER: Definitely, definitely, you don't ever see quote, unquote "swag" anymore. It's all chronic, all hydroponic.

SPELLMAN (voice over): Competition has driven prices down to half of what they were just three years ago creating razor thin margins. But could that change when more people even pot tourist from out of state are able to legally buy weed. Gindi isn't so sure.

GINDI: There is a risk that comes along with it.

SPELLMAN (on camera): That might push the federal government into acting where they were comfortable not acting with medical marijuana.

GINDI: Right and I have to make that choice.

SPELLMAN (voice over): These marijuana pioneers will probably never convince all of their critics that pot should be legal but they see themselves as the good guys.

LAPTEGAARD: Every single person that comes here that works for me when they clock in the put their figure on a sensor and you're already committing a federal crime. So every single person that works in this industry are all here for one reason and one reason only it's because we believe that marijuana prohibition is immoral and that we have to do something about that.


COSTELLO: Wow. Jim Spellman joins us now. And Jim I just want to explain to people where you are. You were -- you're also covering the weather in Colorado which isn't so nice, but we wanted to talk to you about this marijuana story.

So you're now in a satellite truck. That's where you are -- having said that, you mentioned that banks won't accept money from these people, so what do these owners do?

SPELLMAN: It's a -- it's a real tough situation for them. They deal in a lot more cash than most any business would like to deal in. At Shaun Gindi's dispensaries they have ATMs in lieu of using credit card transactions. So they do what they can.

It's so important for the bulk of the people in this industry to follow all the regulations that are there. They feel that as they follow these regulations, it helps legitimize their business. But you know it's not easy for them. I mean what business deals in all cash and can't deduct things from their taxes, you know.

It's tough but they really, really are devoted, they told me constantly to following all of these rules. That's their path to legitimization, they say -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And you could hear the passion they feel about their product. They are proud of the quality of the marijuana they grow.

SPELLMAN: Yes. No, it's really interesting. These people that are -- each of these growths has a master guru gardener, you know. And they are so proud of what they grow. And it's always sort of escalating between these different places, they have different strains, different hybrids that they're developing all the time. Every time I go to one of these places, Carol, they want to send me home with a bag of weed. They're so proud of their product, you know. They're like bakers or winemakers or people running a small breweries or something. They're so proud of what they grow.

It is a complete shock. I've been here in Colorado since this industry really started in earnest about four years ago. And it's amazing the cultural transformation here. You go down the street in all neighborhoods and you'll see dispensaries. And it's really become the new normal here. Pretty quickly it's out in the open and by and large, people don't seem that worked up about it you know.

Although with coming recreational marijuana next year, that could changed. So we'll see -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Jim Spellman, thanks.

Instead of wine tastings, there will be -- well you know where I'm going here. Tomorrow our "Pot Boom" series continues. Pot comes to you delivery -- it's not just for pizza anymore. Pot delivery companies are popping up all across Denver.

That story here on CNN tomorrow morning 9:00 Eastern.


COSTELLO: Just days after revealing to the world that he's gay, Jason Collins has become a household name. And guess what; his jersey is now one hot commodity.

Andy Scholes is here with "Bleacher Report". Hi Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES: Hey, good morning Carol.

Collins has been in the NBA for 12 years now. Before this week, probably not many people outside of his friends and family owned one of his jerseys but hey, that's not the case anymore. According to the "Washington Post", 100 percent of the personalized jerseys sold this week on Washington Wizards team Web site have been a Collins 98 jersey. Collins wore this number 98 this season as a secret tribute to Matthew Shepherd.

It was back in 1998 that the 21-year-old Wyoming college student was kidnapped, beaten and left for dead because he was gay. Collins is a free agent this off season and will likely wear the number 98 for a different team than the Wizards next season.

Last night the Big Leagues Tim Hudson had himself quite a night. The Brave aced his 7th inning giving a ball and one run to earn his 200th win of his career in front of his wife and kids.

And the milestone win, wasn't enough for them to cheer about in the future. Hudson came to the plate and hit a home run. His wife Kim was so happy she started crying in the stands. Moments later she tweeted, "There's no crying in baseball but if there was, holy cow. Go baby go." And Carol this has got to be a pretty cool moment for the Hudson family. Not only did he get his 200th win -- he hit a home run in the game, only the third of his entire career.

COSTELLO: I love stories like that. See? Baseball can make dreams come true. Even for family members.

Thank you so much Andy.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.