5 Questions With… Harry Smith

By Brian Flood 

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Harry SmithCNBC correspondent Harry Smith is back on the weed. 

Weed programming, that is.

Smith, the voice of CNBC’s “Marijuana in America” has a new show  “Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom” premiering tonight at 9 pm ET.

We caught up with Smith to discuss what to expect from his new show, why he thinks CNBC’s marijuana programming remains the best, and the craziest thing he’s witnessed while reporting on the booming industry.

TVNewser:  What should we expect from “Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom?”

Smith: What’s happening in Colorado is the real end to a prohibition.  The financial opportunities are significant.  And the problems with legalizing the sale of an intoxicant can be pretty formidable too.  We look at everything from the people who are really succeeding in the marijuana business to the stumbling introduction of edibles.  We meet families who are moving across the country to get one very specific kind of medical marijuana they believe can help their very sick kids.  And, we visit the still thriving black market that in theory was supposed to melt away with legalization.

TVNewser: CNN and MSNBC have recently joined the marijuana programming industry with “Pot Barons of Colorado” and “High Profits,” but CNBC produced “Marijuana, Inc.” and “Marijuana USA” before weed programming was trendy. Why will “Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom” keep CNBC atop the genre? 

Smith: CNBC has been at this for years.  We know this story has legs.  Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states.  Alaska, Oregon and DC  voted last fall to join Colorado and Washington in recreational sales.  It’s an amazing business story.  But is also an incredible opportunity to watch a long tabooed substance come out of the closet.

TVNewser: Brandon Coats was fired from his job when he tested positive for THC, even though it is legal in Colorado. His case will go before the State Supreme Court. How could his case impact law in the rest of the U.S?

Smith: The laws in Colorado are clear but contradictory.  The marijuana laws tell employers they may run a drug-free workplace.  Yet earlier legislation demands that what a person does legally in their time away from the workplace is their business and theirs alone.  A possible precedent setter.

TVNewser: What is the craziest/most bizarre thing you witnessed while exploring the marijuana industry in Colorado?

Smith: Mark Twain said, “During a gold rush it’s good to be in the pick and shovel business.”  We found that person in Ohio.  A Navy veteran with an advanced mechanical science degree who is building state of the art extraction machines.  Combining Co2 and pressure, his idiot-proof technology processes weed into high grade hash oil in matter of hours. His business is exploding.  He’s making millions.

TVNewser: What’s your next project?

Smith: Still traveling across America for “Nightly News.”  Still story telling.  I’m a lucky man.