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Recreational Pot Goes on Sale in Washington State; Typhoon Neoguri Hits Japan; Mom Part of Investigation in Hot Car Death; Fan Sues ESPN, MLB for $10 Million; Preliminary Settlement by NFL on Concussion Lawsuits; Obama Requests $3.7 Billion from Congress on Immigration Crisis

Aired July 8, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: @ THIS HOUR, recreational pot shops are opening their doors in Washington state for the first time. We will speak with a store owner, coming up.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Plus, a warning to thousands of U.S. forces overseas, a powerful typhoon pounding a key base and a vulnerable coastline. And the worst of this could still be to come.

PEREIRA: Then eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, that's a typical work week, right? That could be a thing of the past, or will it?

BERMAN: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira, those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: So @ THIS HOUR, it's 11:00 a.m. here on the East Coast. It's 8:00 a.m. out in Washington state. You know what that means? You can buy pot legally as of like right now.

At this minute, legal marijuana shops are opening their doors for the very first time.

PEREIRA: Yeah, that's right. Right now, Washington is joining Colorado as one of only two states where marijuana is sold for recreational use. Several states obviously allow medical marijuana, but in Washington and in Colorado, you can buy it just for fun.

Demand is expected to be huge. For now, only 24 stores across Washington state have pot licenses, but the state expects to soon have some 300 pot shops licensed and up and running.

BERMAN: There are some rules here, some restrictions. You can only buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. No touching, you can't handle or sample the marijuana before buying. You also can't open your package of marijuana before you leave the store. And, finally, obviously, you have to be at least 21 to buy.

PEREIRA: Very similar with the exception of the one ounce, very similar to liquor stores really when you think about it, right?

Let's talk more about all of this, about how it's going to be sold in Washington state.

BERMAN: Bringing in right now some people at the center of it all. Tom Beckley is the owner of a new marijuana shop opening up in Bellingham, Washington.

PEREIRA: And he joins us from Bellingham via Skype. First of all, I feel badly that we are tearing you away from your opening two minutes of business.

You just opened the doors, Tom. Tell us what's going on. You got a crowd there?

TOM BECKLEY, OWNER, TOP SHELF CANNABIS: Big crowd, they're going down around the corner of the building, and it's a really big day. We got our first customers come in at 8:00, and it's crazy right now.

BERMAN: So how is inventory, Tom? Because one of the issues all over your state has been, we understand, there's just not enough supply to meet demand.

BECKLEY: We were lucky enough to have someone working on that for the last three weeks, and we have landed about 25 to 28 pounds.

PEREIRA: We also understand there is only a handful of shops that are opening and there is only, what, about 24 or so that are getting licensed. The plan is to have more.

Why is it that they're starting out kind of slowly with just the 24 licenses handed out on the first day?

BECKLEY: Well, it's just a long process. To get them all licensed takes months. So they just took a few, they just picked a few and said, OK, here we go. Can you be open by July 1st, and we said yeah. So they picked us.

BERMAN: We can hear the activity behind you there. Obviously there is pent-up demand for something going on where you are.

Tell me what you've learned by looking at Colorado, obviously Washington state, now the second state to do this. Have you taken a hard look at how things have been going in Colorado to learn any lessons?

BECKLEY: Well, it's a lot different because they can grow their own product and all that. Here, they can't. (Inaudible). It's just a lot different. They opened up on New Year's Day. We are opening up on a Tuesday, you know?

So it's a lot different. And we are just learning as we're going right now.

PEREIRA: Yeah, I bet you are. It looks like such a busy shop. You have people in front of you on your computer. Thank goodness you've got those headphones so you can hear us.

Talk to me, Tom, about the challenges. Any small business owner on the first day, they are nervous about systems and procedures and staffing, et cetera.

This is a new model, obviously, in your state. What are your biggest concerns going forward?

BECKLEY: Well, right now, we are having problems with taking our tags and getting them on the show. That's one concern. Another concern is to make sure we can have product day after day and we are not sold out every day. There's a lot, I mean, like right now, we are scrambling around as I'm speaking to just get stuff on the shelves.

BERMAN: We saw some of that scrambling right in front of this shot right now.

Tom, I'm kind of curious, what are you going to put on your business card at this point? Legal marijuana dealer, seller?

BECKLEY: I'm a pot seller, I guess, pot dealer. I'm just going to go with the punches right now. I haven't even thought about a business card, so that's to come yet. We don't have time for that yet.

PEREIRA: We have watched over time even in the last, I don't know, even the last decade, even the last two years, we have watched how attitudes have shifted, right?

A January CNN/ORC poll showed 55 percent of people are open to having marijuana regulated and sold.

What are the attitudes changing, or are they changing in the area where you are in Washington? Have you noticed how things are changing? How are people reacting to your shop opening?

BECKLEY: You know, it's actually been really supportive. We are in a college town in Bellingham and there has been a lot of support, except for my parents. They were like (inaudible).

Sorry, they were clapping here. But my mom and dad were like, you know, I heard there's job openings at the refinery or with the city, you know? You should look into getting one of those.

And I'm like, no, I think I'm going to try this. They're about the only ones that weren't really supportive, but they are now.

PEREIRA: They are now?

BECKLEY: Yeah, they are now.

PEREIRA: Do you expect they will be customers?

BECKLEY: I don't think so.

BERMAN: But I'm sure he would give his parents a very good deal if they did want to come in.

PEREIRA: Friends and family discount, perhaps?

BERMAN: The friends and family discount, for sure. PEREIRA: Tom, hey, thanks for taking time away from your busy store

opening. We know you've got a lot of other concerns right now. Get some of those tags on the shelves, make sure your product is all lined up.

Thanks for joining us to give us a sense of this. This is an exciting day.

BERMAN: You were asking about the changing attitudes in Washington state. There was cheering going on in his store. They are so happy that that store is open they are literally applauding the first sales of that store there.

PEREIRA: Coincidentally or not, depending on how you want to look at it, "WEED, CANNABIS MADNESS," airing at 9:00 tonight on CNN. Don't miss it.

And if you can't watch, fire up that DVR.

BERMAN: Other news we are following @ THIS HOUR, Israel ramping up its operation against Hamas and Gaza. It says militants have fired more than 100 rockets at Israeli civilians. The military calling up reserve forces now.

In the meantime, Palestinian forces say at least 16 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday night. They say two children are among those dead.

Tensions really have reached the boiling point after the recent killings and kidnappings of both Israeli and Palestinian teenagers.

PEREIRA: Chicago's top police officer reached a tipping point over the weekend. He spoke out, slamming what he calls the nation's lax gun laws. Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy says more work has to be done on the state and federal level, noting that gang members face tougher consequences for losing their guns from their gang than from authorities.

A violent, violent fourth of July weekend saw more than 60 people shot, at least nine killed. As of June 29th, Chicago police have recorded 880 shooting incidents in 2014. That is an average of five a day.

BERMAN: We have a report now that's going to make you pay attention right now. The state of Louisiana spent $1.3 million on food stamps for dead people. Louisiana state auditor found benefits went out to almost 4,000 deceased people over a four-year period. The biggest chunk of money went to people who had been dead for at least four months.

The department that handles food stamps says there is a lag in reporting of deaths -- apparently so -- and it is difficult to cut off benefits the very month that someone dies, they say.

PEREIRA: It's going to make you wonder what happened here. Police detain a 20-year-old mother for questioning after she allegedly abandoned her baby at a busy subway station right below us at Columbus Circle, actually, in New York City.

The woman's identity has not been released but witnesses describe seeing her push her baby stroller off of a train when the car's doors slid open at the stop, but then she stayed on the train, leaving that little child completely alone at the station.

Thankfully, we're told the 7-month-old is doing fine today.

BERMAN: That's good news on that story.

Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, thousands of people evacuated as a ferocious storm hits Japan, a live look at this typhoon and where it is headed next.

PEREIRA: President Obama is set to visit Texas this week. Only thing he is not planning to visit the border, where thousands of undocumented migrants are being held.

Will he add a last minute visit?

BERMAN: Plus, 22 people saved after a roller coaster jumps the track and dangles in the air, people trapped for hours. Yikes!

We'll tell you all about it, just ahead.


PEREIRA: A powerful typhoon is sideswiping parts of Japan today.

BERMAN: Gusts of 138 miles per hour. Look at that surf. Holy cow!

Our Will Ripley takes a look right now at this storm's impact.


WILL RIPLEY , CNN CORRESPONDENT: Round one of Typhoon Neoguri is over with Okinawa now beginning he process of assessing the damage and cleaning up begins.

We know a number of roads were closed because of debris. At least one building collapsed, a number of injuries and more than half a million people received voluntary evacuation notices, not to mention the fact that the main airport was closed, grounding more than a hundred flights and stranding some 14,000 travelers.

All of this just the first round of this storm, which is now on a collision course for mainland Japan, specifically, the southern island of Kyushu, home to 13 million people and an area in the middle of rainy season where every day since last week, since last Thursday, to be specific, this area has seen heavy rain.

People have been evacuated because of flooding, and now you have the potential for a large typhoon with a lot of rain to move in not only bringing with it storm surge, waves, and wind, but also a lot of rainfall over already soaked ground, which could be very problematic and very dangerous in the days to come. Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.


BERMAN: Thanks to will for that report.

Let's talk about the big concerns now with this storm and where it's headed next. Let's check in with Chad Myers from the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, how big of a deal is this storm?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's still going to be a big deal even though it's going to be a Category 1 making landfall in Japan.

Now, it's going to be a big deal, the same reason why Sandy was a big deal, even less than a Category 1, making landfall in New Jersey, because it has that bubble of water.

This was a 155-mile-per-hour super typhoon at one point in its life, which means the surge is still there, dissipating a little but you can't dissipate all at one time as it makes its run right up here toward Kagoshima.

This is the area that we're going to see the most surge damage, and also a little bit of wind damage, but 75 isn't really all that bad. We found that out from -- we had 100-mile-per-hour winds there when we talked about Arthur, and that didn't do a whole lot of damage. But a 75-mile-per-hour wind will likely do less.

It's the wind, it's the surge, and it will be that flooding rainfall. There have been six to 10 inches of rainfall already here in parts of Japan, and as the storm does make its way right over Tokyo eventually -- not that far from where Will is right now -- winds by then will be about 45 miles per hour.

The big surge problem here, and also the flooding problem here, right through the coastal sections tomorrow and into all of the highlands. You have to understand how mountainous Japan is. It's a very rugged interior part of this country. So when all the rain gets up on top of the mountains, or on top of the volcano's all that water rushes back down hill, that's what the people there, right along the shore, have to deal with guys.

PEREIRA: So it's headed now to the mainland Japan, and then to the southern island of Kyushu, 13 million people live there. I'm interested, is July -- we have been talking about the hurricane season for us that started earlier. Is July a normal time for them to be seeing typhoons in Japan?

MYERS: You know the west-pac, the western pacific, doesn't really even have a hurricane season. They can go all year long. Here's what it looks like, typically coming out here from the western pacific and curving up, same way they curve up in America either missing the United States, missing Japan, or getting up here toward Taipei, getting up here toward Shanghai or eventually all the way up into Tokyo and into Japan.

Let me get rid of this. I am going to show you what last year looked like. You know it's like a stock market. Last year's performance doesn't indicate what's going to happen this year, but look at all of the storms that happened last year. Twenty-six separate storms in the west-pac, and yes, during July, August, September, they do make runs at Tokyo, do make runs at Japan. Typically not super typhoons. They are delegated down here where the water is warmer and now that they are getting up into the cooler water, it is no longer a super typhoon, just a typhoon.

PEREIRA: Chad Myers informing us as always. Thanks for joining us @ THIS HOUR. Obviously CNN is going to stay on top of that situation there. Stick with us.

Also ahead @ THIS HOUR, possible inconsistencies. That's what the prosecution is looking for to try to catch the dad in a lie in the hot car toddler case. Talk about it ahead.


PEREIRA: Well we are keeping track of some major legal stories on the docket today.

BERMAN: Yes, so No. 1, are police zeroing in on the mother in the Georgia hot car death.

Another story a lot of my friends talking about, a sleeping sports fan sues ESPN for $10 million for making fun of him, and also a preliminary settlement in the NFL concussion lawsuit.

PEREIRA: Let's dig into it with our legal panel. We have Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, also Esther Panitch, is a criminal and civil trial lawyer also based in the Atlanta area. Good to have you both with us. We will kind of do a speed round of stories with you both.

Why don't we start with the lady, because it's your first time with us @ THIS HOUR. The mom of the Georgia toddler who died in the hot car is certainly coming under increasing pressure. All investigators will say right now is that Leanna Harris is part of the investigation and she has not been charged with a crime. Her husband, Justin Ross Harris, sits in jail charged with murder and child cruelty. I'm curious what your thoughts are, Esther. What's the strategy here investigators are using by sort of talking about the mom being a focus of the investigation?

ESTHER PANITCH, CRIMINAL AND CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER: Well, hopefully in their view, they will try to get her to cooperate with law enforcement and provide any testimony that she may have, any evidence she may have about her husband's propensity to use violence, if he had any, or if he ever made any threats of doing something like this to her child. So any help that could be gained by her is something that prosecutors would like to solidify their case against him.

PEREIRA: Page, what are your thoughts? PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First I think she needs to get

a lawyer if she doesn't have one. I understand earlier today she was at the jail visiting her husband, presumably had a conversation, maybe about the case, and as she should know by now, all of those conversations are recorded. So to the extent she is going to cooperate with investigators or simply decide to defend herself, either way, she needs to stop talking and get some good legal advice.

BERMAN: All right, the next case is one that I think sports fans everywhere and beyond have a huge interest in. A Yankees fan was caught on camera during a game in April, it was a game broadcast on ESPN. There he is, asleep.

PEREIRA: Well, it happens.

BERMAN: So this fan is suing ESPN for $10 million. He says for making fun of him. Andrew Rector says that ESPN used all kinds of words there, but the question here is, guys, does he have any kind of case? Ten million bucks for showing him asleep on TV?

PATE: I don't think so, no. Normally, someone does have a claim for defamation if the broadcasters had said something that was clearly false about him, something that was defamatory that then caused some injury to his reputation. These comments just seemed like part of the game and if you're going to take that seat and you are going to fall asleep, you need to suffer the consequences of being humiliated for doing so.

BERMAN: Let me just read the statement, Esther, from ESPN to be clear here. They say the comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in the telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit. What happened here is this was posted on YouTube and there were all kinds of comments listed on the site here and that's where some of the more outrageous things were said. Do you have rights, Esther, as a fan, when you go to a game, do you have any privacy rights while sitting in the stands there?

PANITCH: Not if you are sitting in an open space, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. People can overhear your conversations. I mean, no, the answer is no. Anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time and this is just an example of somebody who is abusing the system. Frankly, to bring more negative attention upon himself. I'm not exactly sure why he would want to make this public, but filing the lawsuit makes it become public.

BERMAN: God bless America.

PEREIERA: Can we get one last story in with the two of you, since we have you here. A preliminary settlement has been reached in the NFL concussion suit, we have been watching this story here closely. The league is agreeing to no cap on the funds that are available to players battling diseases related to concussions. This suit does not cover current NFL players, we should point out. I'm curious, though, maybe you can walk us through, Esther, what you know. Why does it not cover current NFL players and who does it cover, then? PANITCH: I'm not exactly sure why it doesn't cover current NFL

players but it does cover past NFL players. My understanding of the settlement is that there is no cap for any damages that can be proven because of injuries sustained while playing football. I know that there was a previous settlement that had been rejected by the judge, and this was basically sent back to the parties to try to come up with a new resolution, and this settlement is expected to go through at a hearing which will be forthcoming.

PEREIRA: Reaction? Page, your turn.

PATE: What I think is important is that there is still no admission of liability here. The NFL has agreed to make some payments, a lot of money will go to folks who had been injured, who have suffered the consequences of their lack of diligence in the past, but they are still not admitting what they were doing in the past is wrong or somehow negligent. I think that's important.

BERMAN: It is a big settlement though and a lot of former players are expected to sign on to this. Page Pate, Esther, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it guys.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, he was accused of getting involved with underage prostitutes in the Dominican republic, but the FBI said there was nothing to that story. Now, senator -- now lawyers for Senator Robert Menendez says this was all a smear campaign by Cuban intelligence.

Then the battle, the immigration battle. President Obama and Texas governor Rick Perry exchange invitations to talk. Will there be this high stakes, high profile meeting on immigration? We will see.


PEREIRA: Some breaking news into the Newsroom. Into the CNN Newsroom. Obviously the President is looking at a big issue here in the United States about immigration and has asked for some funding regarding spending more research -- being able to fund resources to fix the situation he calls very much broken.

I want to get straight to Jim Acosta who is at the White House to talk to us, because the amount is higher than previously thought, is it not?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, that's right, Michaela. We were hearing something in the neighborhood of more than $2 billion. Obviously $2.01 billion could be more than $2 billion. Then as we were getting closer to this announcement, the White House was saying significantly more than $2 billion and this would be almost double that, $3.7 billion is the request from President Obama to Congress to deal with this border crisis.

And I believe we have a graphic to break that down. $1.8 billion would go to the department of health and human services for the care of the unaccompanied children who have been flooding into the United States. $1.1 billion would go to the department of homeland security for the transportation, detention and removal of many of these children. White House officials are on a conference call with reporters earlier this morning stressing that because of the way the law is written, they believe that many of these children just are not eligible to stay in the country, so they will have to be removed.