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Colorado Pot Big Businesses; Western U.S. Hammered with Snow; Are Online Sales Taxes Coming; Supreme Court Avoids Online Sales Tax Fight; The Cost of Prosthetic Limbs; Are Chimpanzees Pets or People?

Aired December 3, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ANDY WILLIAMS, OWNER, MEDICINE MAN: This is our vegetative growth room.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andy Williams is out to be the captain of the country's newest growth industry, Colorado's legal recreational pot business.

(on camera): It is a factory of pot?

WILLIAMS: Is it a factory of pot. It certainly is.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): His Medicine Man will be selling to users up to an ounce for Colorado residents, a quarter-ounce for out-of-staters. Anyone over 21 can buy starting January 1.

Industry watchers say it will be the first time ever anywhere in the world that marijuana has been regulated from seed to sale, an experiment making Colorado a sort of Silicon Valley for pot.

(on camera): It appears that you guys are already bulking up --


MARQUEZ: -- in preparation for what happens January 1.

WILLIAMS: Every one of my competitors is going the same thing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And how much news business does Medicine Man expect?

(voice-over): This is the future?

WILLIAMS: This is the future of Medicine Man.

MARQUEZ: This is --

WILLIAMS: This is it.

MARQUEZ: Oh, my.

(voice-over): Planned is a state-of-the-art facility so advanced they are expecting tourists. WILLIAMS: This is not enough to meet demand next year. We need to expand more.

MARQUEZ: He'd like to triple his supply. And he's not the only one.

(on camera): This is the new world? What is this?

TODD MITCHEM, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OPEN VAPE: This is the -- sort of the future.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It's an industry expected to grow from just over $1 billion nationwide today to over $10 billion by 2018. Companies here sinking millions figuring out how to consume pot in new ways.

Open Vape extracts oil from marijuana and sells a sort of e-cigarette, giving the user an exact dose and producing almost no smoke.

MITCHEM: We grew 1600 percent in 2013.

MARQUEZ (on camera): 1600 percent?

MITCHEM: 1600 percent. We'll do another 600 percent in revenue growth next year.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Open Vape expects to double its work force in 2014. Its brand spanking-new offices taking a page nor from the dot- com boom.

MITCHEM: You know, there are a lot of stereotypes. You think it is guys sitting around smoking pot in the offices. It's not like that. This is a real business. I mean, we are building a culture of excellence around cannabis.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Open Vape 2 has expansion plans, an 860,000 square-foot showcase facility on Colorado's cannabis corridor, AKA, Interstate 25, complete with a cannabis museum and gift shop.

(on camera): Contract's been signed.

MITCHEM: Contracts are happening, money is changing hands.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Taxes on sales of recreational marijuana products, everything from the smokable stuff to chocolates and soda, expected to generate tens of millions of revenue for the state. It's already creating jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anybody here with an appointment?

MARQUEZ: Every morning, Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division, jammed with people just hoping to get a license to work in the new industry. The agency is overwhelmed with applications.

Every aspect regulated. Possession of an ounce or less, legal anywhere within the state's borders. Most places, though, all those counties you see there in red, still either ban or haven't yet decided if they'll allow pot sales. For many here, it is still baby steps.

LEWIS KOSKI, CHIEF OF INVESTIGATIONS, COLORADO MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT DIVISION: What we are hoping is that we can provide a model for that for other states as they elect to move forward with their own marijuana policy.

MARQUEZ: The Colorado experiment taking root. The "Denver Post" has hired a recreational marijuana editor. And Matt Brown, who runs My 420 Tours, says non-Coloradans are excited to experience the new Rocky Mountain high.

MATT BROWN, MY 420 TOURS: We anticipate just through our firm easily 2,000 to 3,000 people next year on our guided tours, which are all inclusive multi-day packages.

MARQUEZ: Even cannabis cooking classes. Chef Blaine Alexander, who teaches some cannabis classes today, sees more.

(on camera): Can you see a restaurant, Blaine's?

BLAINE ALEXANDER, CHEF: Alexander's? But, yes.

MARQUEZ: Alexander's, all right, fine.

ALEXANDER: Of course. I would love that. Yeah. I mean, that has always been my goal.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A goal that here in Colorado could soon be reality.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Denver.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: This just in to CNN. Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, the one who held the three young women for nearly a decade, his death has been ruled suicide. Not autoerotic asphyxiation in his prison cell. Because you'll probably remember that that was the big story. Two independent experts have concluded that evidence in an Ohio State highway report suggesting that it was an accident, something gone wrong, is actually inconclusive evidence. Castro was found hanging by a bed sheet in his prison cell with pants around his ankles. And they're saying it was nothing more than that, just a suicide.

A battle playing out in a Los Angeles courtroom over who owns this. This is an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett. It's fantastic. It's so fantastic that partner, Ryan O'Neill, testified yesterday that he's the rightful owner of that. The other party, the University of Texas at Austin, says she bequeathed it to them. And they're accusing Ryan O'Neill of stealing the portrait a week after she died of cancer. We'll keep you posted on that story.

Last week, the big story was yucky weather. It was going to destroy Thanksgiving for millions of us, on the east coast particularly. And now it's actually pretty nice. Really nice. That's not the story for the west coast. The west coast is getting hammered with snow.

And I can see it behind you, there, Chad. And that's going to move right across the country, right?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's going to -- all the ski resorts are jumping up and down right now because they haven't had a lot of great seasons in a row. For like 10 seasons in a row it's been below normal for snow. To get this much snow this early is a blessing for sure. Yellowstone picked up 19 inches. Duluth Heights, Minnesota, a different storm, but 10 inches of snow there. And North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, the snow is just coming down. Here's what it looks like here. I love this area. This is my Loveland Pass. This is Eisenhower Tunnel area, I-70, Colorado. It's been snowing there for a lot of the morning. It's still snowing here as well into parts of Utah, seeing snow on the benches. All of this coming in with significant warnings all the way from Duluth all the way back Missoula, as far south as Salt Lake City and heavy snow coming into Denver. Now that's the first part of the storm. It redevelops east of the Mississippi and gives some significant snow there as well, and a lot of ice for the middle part of the week -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I'm bracing for it. But you know I'm Canadian, so all of that seems normal in December.


Actually, in June.

Chad Myers, thank you for that, my friend. I guess, thank you.

MYERS: Sure.

BANFIELD: So if you were tapping away on your computer yesterday, it went from Cyber Monday to mobile Monday. We all spent a whole lot of money yesterday. And for some of you out there, you did not pay sales tax for all of those fantastic bargains online. That's changing. And Christine Romans is going to explain to you whether it's going to affect you and why the courts are involved.


BANFIELD: I've got this just in. It's an important update on a health scare on board a U.S. Airways express flight from Austin to Phoenix. Has to do with T.B.

My colleague, Casey Wian, joins me now with more details.

What did they come up with, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: that's right. Very good news for 70 passengers onboard that flight who were told that a passenger on that flight had T.B. and had potentially been exposed to the T.B. virus or T.B. bacteria and were warned to go get tested by their doctors. Terrified a lot of passengers. Health officials here now say that subsequent testing shows that the passenger did, in fact, not have T.B. and does not have tuberculosis. He has been released from the hospital late last night. He has now been cleared to travel again. You may wonder, why were passengers told by the fire department here at the airport to get tested and that they had T.B. It's because they were operating on information from the Centers for Disease Control, which had put that passenger on a no-fly list -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Casey, that's good news.

Thank you for that. Appreciate the update.

One of the biggest perks of buying from or other big web retailers, you don't often have to pay the sales tax. It may not no longer be the case for everybody. Because the U.S. Supreme Court on Cyber Monday said it is just not going to get involved in the state's efforts to force all of these online shops to collect tax from you when you make those purchases. We're not talking peanuts. It's estimated that states actually miss out on about $23 billion. That's just last year alone in uncollected taxes of all types, but half of them from online sales.

And here with us some serious, astute take on this issue, business correspondent, Christine Romans; and HLN's legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

I almost don't need to launch a question. I'll just say, Christine, take it away, and then you comment.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Look, if you're a state, right, and you see someone say you're in New York and sitting in their living room and they buy something --


ROMANS: -- or they drive a mile away and they buy something online, you're the state, you want the sales tax from both of those purchases.


ROMANS: If you go to a store --

BANFIELD: Or online.

ROMANS: -- or you shop online, right?


ROMANS: Now the Supreme Court is not going to, not going to weigh into this debate where the web retailers say we don't think people should have to pay sales tax on the purchases that people make online. And this has been the basis of the love of online shopping from the beginning. This is some way you don't have to buy sales tax. You buy online, it's so great. That I think is going to be going away. I think this decision by --

(CROSSTALK) BANFIELD: But you know something, that's great for the shopper. That stinks for Macy's, the brick-and-mortar company --


BANFIELD: -- who says, why are they getting this unfair advantage just because they have an online business.

ROMANS: And those with -- the loser here are consumers. The losers up until now have been the bricks-and-mortar stores. And the winners up until now have been the online retailers.

BANFIELD: So why would the Supreme Court -- and they never have to comment. They never do. That's why they wouldn't take up --




BANFIELD: They're supreme, for heaven's sakes.

JACKSON: Christine and I were talking about this issue. And I think what they're doing, Ashleigh, is they're forcing Congress to act.


JACKSON: That's why they want to see. Congress --

ROMANS: Interstate commerce is the purview of Congress.

JACKSON: Yes, it is. It's the purview of Congress. And what they're saying is, look, we have a judicial job to do, which is to determine constitutionality. But you guys in Congress, if you want uniformity among states, that's up for you to decide.

It's interesting though, because whenever there's conflicts -- New York State, of course, we have the online tax and that was challenged. It was upheld by the court of appeals. In Illinois, however, they attempted to model a law right after New York concerning online retailers and it was struck down. That's why there was some hope, whenever there's a sort of a patch work of different states having different laws, the Supreme Court kicks in. But here they said, you guys in Congress, you're elected, you decide.

ROMANS: And we're looking at a 20-year-old ruling, right, from 1992 --


JACKSON: -- vs. North Dakota.

BANFIELD: That guy. That guy.

ROMANS: And online commerce has changed so much since then. Back then we said, don't tax it because it will kill the Internet.


BANFIELD: Kill the Internet.

ROMANS: No one is going to kill the Internet.


BANFIELD: Kill the Internet.

JACKSON: The Internet lives.

BANFIELD: The Internet lives. It thrives. And I love the timing that this all happened yesterday on Cyber Monday.

JACKSON: Symbolism.

BANFIELD: Joey Jackson, Christine Romans, great to have you. Brilliant minds.

Thank you, both.

Just ahead getting what you pay for.


HEATHER ABBOTT, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: If I couldn't have a leg that looked like my own, I don't know that I would have recovered as well.


BANFIELD: A Boston bombing survivor talks about the thousands of dollars needed for prosthetic limbs and the fact that most aren't covered by insurance and need to be replaced every few years.


BANFIELD: Ever since the Boston Marathon bombings, we've been marveling at the resilience of the victims who made it through that horror. And Heather Abbott is one of them. Her left leg was so damaged that she had part of it amputated. This is a woman after my heart because she likes to rock those sexy high heels. And despite what she's gone through, she is rocking those heels again.

And Poppy Harlow shows us the remarkable progress that she's made.


ABBOTT: I didn't look at it the at all from the, you know, the moment that it happened.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heather Abbott is talking about her left leg, amputated after the Boston bombing. She wanted to remember it the way it was before. (on camera): You call yourself a professional heel wearer?

ABBOTT: I think I did call myself that once.

HARLOW: Really?

(voice-over): And today she is, again. Walking on four-inch stilettos on her prosthetic leg, nothing short of miraculous.

Take a close look. Can you tell which one is manmade?

ABBOTT: I can go out in public now with part of my leg exposed and nobody's staring at it because they can't tell.

You can kind of see where there's like shaving marks --


-- where you know somebody would have shaved.

HARLOW: It looks life like. Cosmetic cover color matched to her skin tone down to the freckles and creases on the heel. Heather now has four prosthetic legs.

ABBOTT: This is my waterproof leg. And I wear this one in the in the shower.

HARLOW: This one's for running, another for flats and one for high heels.

ABBOTT: I kind of feel like my old self again when I wear it.

HARLOW: She had no idea she would get this far until advocate Aviva Drescher (ph) walked into her hospital room.

ABBOTT: She walked in with high heels in skinny jeans and I couldn't tell which leg was real and which wasn't. It really helped me think, OK, I'm going to be able to do this.

Of course, can the priority when you lose a limb is how am I going to walk. Beyond that is sort of a female rite of passage, which is, how am I going to feel pretty and sexy? How am I going to get a pedicure? How am I going to wear a bathing suit? I think those are all normal questions.

HARLOW (on camera): I mean, it feels like skin.

ABBOTT: Some of them are more cosmetic concerns that I had I wasn't as vocal about because they seemed sort of insignificant at the time.

HARLOW: Were you sort of embarrassed to ask?

ABBOTT: I think I was asking if I was going to be able to wear a dress again didn't seem like an appropriate question.

HARLOW (voice-over): But it is, and here's why. DR. DAVID CRANDELL, SPEAKING REHABILITATION HOSPITAL: For Heather, having a highly cosmetic cover that matches her remaining leg was essential to her recovery. She is now able and has the confidence to go out in public.

HARLOW: This isn't the norm for most amputees, not by a long shot, with highly cosmetic prosthetics often not covered for insurance.

For Heather, it was a combination of insurance and donations.

(on camera): Do you think everyone should be able to have a limb liking this covered by insurance?

ABBOTT: Yeah, I do. If I couldn't have a leg that looked like my own, I don't know that I would have recovered, as well.

It's upsetting to me that there are other men and women out there that aren't able to have a leg that looks like their own leg if that's what they want.

HARLOW: Heather estimates the total cost of her four prosthetics is roughly $200,000. She'll need to replace them every three to five years. And she'll fight for others who hope to get the prosthetics they want and need.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, Newport, Rhode Island.


BANFIELD: It's great to see Heather in her circumstance now, given what she's been through.

I have some news, in moments ago, a federal judge in Detroit approved that city's plan for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. This was not unexpected, folks, but you look at a city like that -- these are live pictures coming from our chopper courtesy of our affiliate, WDIV. And you wonder honestly, a city like Detroit ruled insolvent? It calls bankruptcy, a chance for a fresh start, and the judge is saying OK? That city, that beautiful city is $18 billion in debt. The judge's order says the city must continue to negotiate with its creditors including the unions and the pension funds and the investors. There you go. It's a go, Chapter 9 for Detroit, in the United States of America. Who knew?

When we come back, the lawsuit about these chimpanzees that everyone's talking about. Are they, in fact, like any other caged animal, or do somehow chimpanzees deserve different rights and freedoms closer to those of humans? It is a fascinating study. Let's look.


BANFIELD: Is a chimpanzee a person? And before you answer that, you got to look at it a different way, because there is a rights group fighting to prove that is exactly what they are, at least kind of. The group is seeking the status of, quote, "legal person" for chimpanzees being held in captivity and they filed an unprecedented lawsuit in New York's Supreme Court on behave of chimpanzees living as pets in this state.

For their take on this very intriguing case, Danny Cevallos and Joey Jackson.

Before anybody says, that's crazy, they're not, that's insane, there is a very researched approach to this. Listen to this. This is not a joke. This is not going to be tossed out quickly. Why is that?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Ashleigh, when I first heard of this case, my initial impression -- I'll bet Joey's with me -- I thought that is pure nonsense. Then I read the actual petition. It is simply beautifully written and very sound justifications.

I'll give you some basics. The idea that chimpanzees aren't person is belied by two things. We leave them money in trusts and recognize them as persons for that. The other argument is that the Supreme Court has already said a corporation can be a person back in 2010.


CEVALLOS: And then they provide all kinds of statistic research showing that chimps possess this all-important cognitive ability, autonomy. Can they take care of themselves?

BANFIELD: So real quickly, especially with a corporation being a person, there's a difference between a legal person and a human being.

JACKSON: Absolutely. And the lawsuit makes this very point. As Dan and I were speaking about this, neither of us wants to be on the wrong side of history. So I'll say, give the chimpanzees their legal personhood. Human beings, it's different. There's a big distinction between the two. What this group is saying is, for purposes of similarities between the two, they have cognitive functions. They can reason. They have depression. They can think. They can do sign language. And as a result of that, you shouldn't treat them in a way such as to enslave them. Release them, let them out to their habitat, and let them be amongst other persons, chimpanzees.

BANFIELD: When I read the habeas corpus petition, I thought this is really interesting. I can't wait to see where it goes.

JACKSON: Case law in there. Unbelievable.

CEVALLOS: They've got the science.

BANFIELD: Do they ever.

I wish I could talk more about this. But we will. We'll watch there case carefully.

I appreciate it, Danny Cevallos and Joey Jackson. Flat out of time.

JACKSON: Thank you, Ashleigh, very much. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

Thank you, everyone for watching. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: This is AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Suzanne Malveaux today.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

Now, we're going to talk a little bit about the train crash in New York. There have been developments.

WHITFIELD: That's right. A deadly train crash taking place just days ago. And now we understand that the train engineer is talking and saying that he may have been in "a daze," quote, unquote, just prior to that train derailing.

Let's go to Washington and Rene Marsh for more on that -- Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred and Michael, we are learning more information about what happened in the moments before that speeding train jumped the tracks in the Bronx. Two senior law enforcement sources tell CNN producer, Shamon Krokapey (ph) that the train --