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Tommy Chong Reveals He Has Prostate Cancer; New York's Governor Proposes to Lower Penalties for Marijuana Possession
Aired June 9, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon. We're going to get to the stories you're talking about in a moment. But first, let's get you up to speed on the some of the day's headlines.
First up, the banks in Spain are in big trouble and the European union is going to bail them out. This is a big deal. It is a drastic measure that could save the EU from breaking apart, really. Spain's bank bailout could cost the EU $125 billion. That would help stabilize Europe's fourth largest banking system and get Spain back in the lending business.
Today in Syria, more street fighting, more shelling, more deaths. This is the city Homs, where heavy artillery exploded in residential neighborhoods. Witnesses say Syrian forces shelled a mosque and church and at least 26 people reported killed, including the mayor of this neighborhood.
Across the country, we are told at least 96 people were killed in street fighting and artillery fighting. There was even a street clash in city of Damascus where rebels reportedly killed 17 troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
This next video is hard to watch. A California man faces a felony charge of child abuse for spanking his stepson with a belt. A neighbor shot video of the incident that happened Wednesday during a backyard game of catch. The accused man is an official with the central California water agency. He's now out on bond.
We have a great show tonight. Here's what we're working on this hour.
LEMON (voice-over): Fire it up. It's Saturday night. Another big state easing up on pot laws.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that's a good idea.
LEMON: He's not the only one. Cheech's pot smoking buddy charming is here. So, as a pot know it all who says, weed is the green to grow our burnout economy.
The 411 on 420, we guarantee you won't hear it anywhere else on TV. We've got little people with big problems over Snow White's dwarves.
And the back story on an "America's got talent" singer who is apparently a talented liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the truth that I truly think is real.
Busted for posing as an injured American war veteran.
LEMON: We're going to start tonight by talking about something a lot of people do, and look forward to doing on a Saturday night. Let's just be honest. Smoking pot.
New York's governor this week proposed to lower the penalties for possession, because he believes those penalties are unfair. We are going to take that discussion a bit further here. A whole lot further.
My next guest says it's time to make it legal. Not only medically but socially, just like alcohol. John Gettman, you should know, John Gettman. You know, he is - his specialty is the fiscal impact of marijuana laws. There he is. He's joining us from our nation's capital.
But John, first I want you and our audience to listen to what many call the poster boy of pot revealed to us.
When we invited Tommy Chong on, we invited him to talk about the New York proposal. We had no idea he would drop this bombshell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOMMY CHONG, ACTOR: My announcement is that I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a month ago. And I'm going to start treating it with cannabis oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: More of my interview with him in just a few minutes here on CNN. We are going to talk about his treatment and talk about why he thinks it should be legalized.
But John, he says what New York is proposing is more important to him and he believes many others because it could change the way people perceive marijuana and the laws surrounding marijuana. What do you think of his announce mend and why he says it's so important now?
DOCTOR JON GETTMAN, SHENANDOAH UNIVERSITY, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSOR: Well, first of all, we all wish Mr. Chong a speedy recovery. Tommy has brought a lot of joy and he has entertained a lot of people over the last couple of decades. So we all wish him well and hope that he has a successful fight with prostate cancer.
As far as the New York issue goes, this issue has be curious. New York actually decriminalized marijuana possession in the 1970s. There was a loophole in that law, though, in which when people, if they displayed marijuana in public, they were still subject to a misdemeanor arrest.
And so, what's happened is the New York city police have used that loophole to ignore the intent of the legislature and the law and find ways to make arrests of people for marijuana.
What they would do is question people, frisk them, get them to empty their pockets and when marijuana came out, arrest them for displaying it, and which just so happens mostly it was blacks and Hispanics who would be subject to this treatment. That's the purpose of the reform.
LEMON: And the governor saying it is unfair and that he believes that it can ruin a young person's life and he said you shouldn't go through life if you're possessing a small amount of marijuana.
But, let's just be honest about it. The reason we're doing this, a whole lot of people do, especially on a Saturday night, as I said, you know, people look forward to doing it, and it's true, it's true. Why do people, you know, want to believe that people just don't do pot, right?
So do you think, number one, as New York goes the rest of the country goes? And do you think it is time that we start looking at deregulation of marijuana at least differently in this country?
GETTMAN: I think it's long overdue actually, but certainly this is a good time. Marijuana reform has been very popular issue in many states around the country. But more importantly, we've been trying to use criminal law arresting people as a way of controlling this drug. We've been trying it avidly for over 50 years and it's been a complete failure. I mean, the real issue is keeping pot away from kids and we haven't been able to do that by arresting people. So I think it's time to try a different approach.
LEMON: And what are you looking at now, there are 17 states plus the District of Columbia offer some sort of legal marijuana possession, and California is included in that. Just this week you saw what happened in New York.
You said the war on drugs, as we call it here, especially as it relates to marijuana possession, it's not happening. In my conversation with you, you said the only way that you're going to control drugs in this country, marijuana I should say, and I want to be specific about that, marijuana, the only way you're going to do that is by regulating it.
GETTMAN: We've been very successful with alcohol and tobacco with regulatory programs, with taxes, with controls, age limits for people buying it, relying on education and prevention programs to discourage use. In fact, right now, more people smoke marijuana, more teenagers smoke marijuana than smoke tobacco. So we've been successful with those programs and I think we should try that approach with marijuana. It is about time. LEMON: I want to be honest about this conversation. We didn't want to do that whole fake balance thing, John, where you have someone going this is why it's bad. We've heard the arguments, John Gettman, about why it's bad, that it's a gateway drug, that it causes violence and crime and that whole element.
And the purpose of this show is to get people just to look at it differently and to open their minds about it, about -- especially how it might be able to help economically in these times that we have around the country.
S John, we'll talk more about this after the break. So stand by.
Now this for you, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Why Tommy Chong believes his time in prison on drug charges gave him cancer. And why he, of all people, is against regulating marijuana.
Plus, King Obama? Queen Clinton? Or princess Pelosi? That idea stirring a social media political firestorm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Looking at your comments right now @donlemoncnn. Thank you for talking to us about this.
What she's doing, she's smoking pot. Tonight, that's what we're talking about, not just the regular pot discussion. We're taking our conversation further.
John Gettman is the associate professor of criminal justice at Shenandoah University. He is with me now.
Let's talk about dollars and cents, OK.
So, this has been called America's biggest cash crop. Some people estimate up to $110 billion. That's what people in the United States spend each year on marijuana, each year on marijuana. And the taxes that are involved. If it is regulated, we have all these governments around the country that have in financial shambles.
Could this help the economy if it is regulated and people change their thinking about the regulation of marijuana?
GETTMAN: Absolutely. Let's look at some simple numbers. U.S. government estimates, 17 million pounds of marijuana grown each year in the U.S., $3,000 a pound, $50 billion industry, just domestically grown marijuana. Leave aside what's brought in from overseas.
Now, all that money that spent on it is money that's not generating tax revenues. It is not being spent at the local grocery store or the local hardware store, on cars or boats or what have you. It's not generating any tax income whatsoever. That alone is costing state, local and federal government $15, $17 billion a year in taxes. And that's not even counting what the ex-size tax would be if it were legal.
Now. If it were legal, the price would drop tremendously and it's hard to do an estimate how much tax revenue it would generate, but it would be in the billions of dollars. It would be considerable. And also it would stop this hemorrhaging of money out of the legitimate economy. And that alone would increase tax revenue considerably for local government.
LEMON: Ok. So, listen. There are people who say, listen, there's an argument that covering the social costs of the regulation would outweigh the revenue it would bring in. And whatever the billions that you said from the sale that's generated from this, the social impact cost would outweigh that and we ended up paying in the long run instead of making money. What do you say to that?
GETTMAN: I think that's a spurious argument.
Look. Right now, the last survey data we got, 775,000 teenagers who admitted to a federal survey, they sold drugs last year. They're probably selling pot. The difference between marijuana and alcohol and tobacco is, marijuana is illegal, highly profitable and that provides an incentive for teenagers to sell it to each other.
If marijuana were legal, we could cut down on teenage marijuana use and the benefits from that would offset any other problems that it might create. Sure, there are issues, but we can control that in regulations.
LEMON: It's a gateway drug.
GETTMAN: Alcohol and tobacco are the gateway drugs. In the 1950s, a documentary I saw, classic movie two-three weeks ago, 1958, "goof balls and tea." It was alcohol and tobacco followed by barbiturates that were the gateway drugs, then it was marijuana.
Frankly, a lot of people who use marijuana get exposed to illegal drugs because they're going to an illegal market. If we legalized it, regulated it, would cut that out completely.
LEMON: WE have to run, a really quickly though. We see the violence in Mexico, the violence on our borders. What would it mean -- what would regulation mean for that?
GETTMAN: Well, it would deflate the profitability and the tremendous amount of cash in the marijuana market and there wouldn't be such profits to fight over.
Now, sure, there are criminal organizations involved in meth, cocaine, heroin, smoking what have you, but we would take away a tremendous chunk of their business and it would lower the violence considerably. And by the way, we wouldn't be buying as much marijuana from Mexico, because we would be growing it all right here. LEMON: Yes. And I always wondered why alcohol and not marijuana? And you say, it is simply because we don't that much about marijuana. It is fairly new drug here.
GETTMAN: Our scientists figured out how marijuana affects the body in 1988. The drugs have been around for a long, long time. We have been able to observe what it does to people.
There have been a lot of racial issues involved in terms of associating it with African-Americans and Mexicans and other immigrant groups. But really in terms of scientific knowledge, we couldn't crack the code of how this affects the human brain until the '80s.
Since then, almost all the research on marijuana has been how to take advantage of its therapeutic potential.
LEMON: John Gettman. Great conversation. We'll have you back on again. Thank you for coming on. Appreciate it.
GETTMAN: My pleasure.
LEMON: All right. Breaking here tonight.
You haven't heard this anywhere else. Tommy Chong of "Cheech and Chong" fame announces to us that he had cancer. I spoke with Chong earlier this evening. We were going to talk about the legalization marijuana history, but he told me this.
LEMON: The Tommy Chong is here. So, Tommy, good to see you. We brought you in to talk about this New York state about lessening the laws for possession in public. But you have an announcement to make. What is it?
CHONG: My announcement is I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a month ago. And I'm going to start treating it with cannabis oil or hemp oil or pot oil. And the reason I'm treating it with hemp oil is because I looked at a video just recently called "run from the cure" by Rick Simpson. And it documents the whole -- how he cured his melanoma cancer by using hemp oil.
LEMON: You believe that -- you think that you got prostate cancer in prison after, you know, the paraphernalia and the internet company selling the bong, this was 2003. You think you got it in prison. Why?
CHONG: That's my feeling. Because I was totally healthy when I went in jail and I hadn't smoked pot before I went in jail and while I was in jail, I was clean as a whistle because they drug tested me almost every day and I started having problems with my prostate.
Right there, I remember very well. Because when you have problems you have to get up in the middle of the night and pee a lot. And I also contacted gout while I was in prison from the food. And so, I think it was a combination of the food and the fact that the prison itself in Taft, California is built over a toxic waste dump. And they have a thing there called valley fever that other prisoners were getting and they don't know what it was. It's some sort of wasting disease. So I think I got it there, yes.
LEMON: We should tell, you haven't smoked pot in how long. People think you potted but you haven't smoked pot.
CHONG: Well, I laid off for about a year, you know. When I started getting weird health issues, you know, which actually turned out to be prostate cancer. And so, I did everything. I'm a very holistic person. I went on the juices and everything, you know, no red meat and the whole bit. And so - but now that I found out that the hemp oil will help the prostate, hey, I'm back.
LEMON: Do you think people are short sighted because many people have an issue with it morally and do you think people are being shortsighted about what marijuana can do to you as it compares to alcohol and other drugs can also -- what it means economically, should we, meaning the country as a whole, be looking at regulating marijuana as a way to help, to boost this economy?
CHONG: Actually, I'm against it. I think leave it the way it is. I mean, we don't need more taxes. We don't need to be taxing something like they're doing with tobacco, you know. I mean, because again, where does the tax money go? It goes into a black hole called the government.
LEMON: I think people are going to think that -- finding out that you don't think it should be legalized? Let's get this straight. You don't think pot should be legalized.
CHONG: No, I don't think it should be taxed. I think it should be totally legal, yes. But it shouldn't be taxed.
LEMON: Why? How can you legalize it and regulate it and then not tax it? Most things that are regulated will go at your tax.
CHONG: All you have to do is decriminalize it. Just take away the criminal penalties. We don't need a system of who we're going to buy it from. We've got growers we buy it from. We got people that will come to your house. We don't need a government regulation to tell us this is good pot, that's bad pot. We don't need that. We've got everything in place. Just take away the penalties.
LEMON: Tommy Chong, thank you so much. Thank you for being candid with us about prostate cancer and for telling our viewers here and we wish you the very best, OK?
CHONG: Thank you. And I want to come back when I'm cured and let you know how it went, OK?
LEMON: Yes, we'll have you back.
CHONG: Thanks, man.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Again, our thanks to Tommy Chong. We reached out to the prison he was in to talk about that. No comment from them tonight. Best of look to Tommy Chong.
OK. Do liberals want Barack Obama, the president, to be a king instead of a president? That very question caused a huge stir on CNN.com. We'll grill the author of that study, of that editorial there. And we're going to read your comments next, as well.
LEMON: A city known for its conservative ideals is now also known for a political first. Fareed Zakaria talked with Canada's first Muslim mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS (voice-over): If you've ever been to Calgary, you might know it for its annual stampede. Ten days of cowboys, rodeos. Last year, the royals. And of course, its Muslim cowboy hat-wearing mayor. What? Who?
NAHEED NENSHI, CALGARY MAYOR: The great thing is nobody thinks it's funny that a guy who looks like me in a cowboy hat is sometimes the image of the city. People just accept that.
ZAKARIA: When he became the first Muslim mayor of a major Canadian city in 2010, he shattered Calgary's red neck stereotype.
NENSHI: When I was running for office, it was only people that weren't from there that said is Calgary ready for somebody like that? The people said that's a kid from the east end. We know him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Watch Fareed's special, "the GPS roadmap for making Immigration," Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
OK. More talk now. More conversation. Republicans aren't shy when it comes to criticizing President Obama. But don't let these pictures fool you.
CNN.com political contributor Dean Obeidallah says if you listen to the political left, you're liable to hear a Greek chorus of whining. All right.
This is a guess. But, they have not stop after that he posted this commentary. Liberals want Obama to be a king and not a president.
Dean, that certainly caused a stir when I read it. I said all right, I've got to tweet this out. So send me a link.
Your piece generating some interesting reaction. Mash Ash Obaca (ph). I don't know. That's a long name. Here's what Mash Ash Obaca (ph) writes. Liberals just wanted Obama to grow a spine and campaign far more fiercely for what he promised.
Here's another post that sort to makes the same point that you tried to. "You got to be kidding. Liberals want an intelligent president that knows when to compromise and when to bluff."
So what do you think? Why would you say liberals want a king instead of a president?
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: First of all, Don, why is your tie? I really don't like speaking to you without a tie. I feel it is very unnerving. This is CNN, not public access.
But, let's go back to the issue right now.
LEMON: You stole it.
OBEIDALLAH: It's been a growing feeling by me, as I heard more and more famous liberals come out against President Obama. Matt Damon, Cornell West, John Cusack, just this week Jackson Brown. And a recent Gallup poll showed only 70 percent of liberals support President Obama, the lowest level in seven months.
And it's all the same thing you hear from him. He compromises too much. He gave in too much. He's too much like a politician, too much dealing, wheeling and dealing. Well, that's what a president does.
What they want is someone completely unrestrained by the constitution and checks and balances to do what he promised, come in day one and make a law. And the only person that can do that is a king. And that's why I got to the point where I said, you know, you guys don't want a president that lives within our constitution. You want someone who really is a king like from game of thrones that can just make things happen. That's not our system, unfortunately for them.
LEMON: OK. Let me just say this. He ran on change. He said he was going to change the way things happened rather than being just a politician as you say. What do you say to that?
OBEIDALLAH: I think that - I think President Obama has made changes. And I don't want to get into this whole thing like I'm out here defending President Obama and I'm going through his accomplishment. That's not really my issue.
My issue is at, at some point the far left has to see they're a mirror image of the far right. They don't believe it. They de- testify right.
You know, who else says compromise is wrong? Herman Cain said it during the campaign, the tea party say it, they're cut from the same cloth. And that's my point. It's contributing to the polarization in America where those are few this week, Saying we never been more polarized politically.
LEMON: OK. Hey, listen. Here's the thing. You know, I think that you can say whatever you want. I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of speech, freedom of speech. Where I found - where took an issue, it doesn't mean I'm mad at you, is liberals are criticizing the president?
What's wrong with Liberals criticizing the president. Liberal should criticize the president. No one is above criticism. And don't you hate it when people on the right, no one on the right could do anything wrong. No one on the left can do anything wrong. The president can do no harm. If you say anything about the president, some people though, I can't believe you talk about the president and you look at their tweets and that's all they tweet about is how much they love the president. It's like, hello, something is wrong if you love every single move someone makes.
OBEIDALLAH: No. This is not - look. The president is not on a reality show. It's not a pass or fail phase in each issue. It's a culmination of their stance on different issues. That's my point.
You have to look at the reality situation. You remember the after school special, how a bill becomes a law? You know, I'm just a bill sitting on Capitol Hill, well, it has to go through Congress and then the president can sign it. And if Congress not allow it to go through, he can't sign it.
Same thing Guantanamo bay, you are the only time (INAUDIBLE). You can't close to Congress is standing the way --
LEMON: We get it. I got to move on. But here's what I have to say. I understand your point. Nobody is perfect, no one is above criticism. Even if you are of that person's party.
OBEIDALLAH: You're close to that, Don.
LEMON: Thank you , sir. We know that.
Coming up, Louie Anderson live in our studio and we are talking about pot and that incredible video of a father taking a belt to his kid for not playing catch the way he wanted him to play.
There's Louie. That's next.
LEMON: All right. The '80s were the golden age of comedy, but very few of those performers really broke free of the brick wall background, remember that? Louie Anderson did, though, from the stand up circuit to his own TV show to the Family Feud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIE ANDERSON, COMEDIAN, ACTOR, AUTHOR: Can you been to Canada? Because it's an experience. First of all, you fill out the immigration thing. Are you carrying $10,000 or more? Are you crazy? I'm coming from the states. We don't have $10,000.
ANDERSON: Are you bringing any weapons? Yes, I got a howitzer in my hollow leg.
ANDERSON: Does anything say yes, I'm bringing weapons in and I'm flush with cash? How about the walk from the plane to customs, ever done that? What is that for, to weed out the sick and infirm?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Louie Anderson is here down live right now.
ANDERSON: Hi, Don.
LEMON: He's not only a comedian, but he is a social commentary. So, he is going to talk to me about some of the things - thank you. You had a gig tonight.
LEMON: OK. So, let's talk about some of the issues. We can call it hot topics.
ANDERSON: OK. Fair.
LEMON: Have you seen the video of this man caught beating his son? Play it for him.
ANDERSON: Let me see this.
LEMON: So a neighbor takes the video. Apparently he's not catching the baseball properly. And the guy, now it has to be investigated. You've written a lot about your abusive dad and you talk about things like this. What do you say to that?
ANDERSON: Well, you know, here's the thing. Like my dad, like abuse is really the number one problem in the world. You see it from Syria to, you know, to the United States here. It's everywhere.
I mean, abuse is responsible for a lot of people's lives, a lot of crime, a lot of drug use, a lot of alcoholism. It's our number one thing, it really is. So I had a dad. He was an alcoholic and he was abusive. And I struggled with it. And then one day, ten years after he died, I wrote a letter to him, which turned into a series of letters and turned into a journey, a cathartic journey where ultimately I had to find forgiveness for him, because the resentment, it eats its own container.
LEMON: It's therapy.
ANDERSON: Yes. So I can forgive him.. and now, after I was able to forgive, and because forgiveness is the ultimate thing in life, in my opinion. I was able to see him as a humorous, funny human being with a life, not this monster.
LEMON: I always had -- there is a thread, I think that there is something in just about every comedian, and it's this -- I don't know. I don't if it is a smart - there is something in it. I was telling you about Joy Behar.
ANDERSON: Right. Right. Very funny.
LEMON: When I went on Joy Behar show and then I have revealed something about myself and I said Joy, thank you so much. This is the first time I've laughed in two days. And she said, you must have a sense of humor, even when dealing with things and it can be cathartic. And you feel the same way. It's amazing that comedians have - I think that's an inner power that you have.
ANDERSON: I think is a count like you are like a stew from the family. You were brewed a different way. You were born in a certain spot. Your dad was this way, your mom was protective of your dad was abusive, or your mom was abusive and your dad was to protect her. And you kind of got this -- you learned how to do social commentary.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, listen. Let's talk of the - because you talk about this and is it part of your book, you talk about baby boomers, right?
LEMON: Yes. Here's the whole idea, you know. I didn't even know I was going to turn 50. It just happened one day. I just turned 50. I was asleep. I woke up and I went, my God, I'm 50.
LEMON: Well, you look good.
ANDERSON: Thank you.
LEMON: Seniors visiting me Internet, more than half of the Americans over the age of 65 use the internet, they are online, they are on facebook, or whatever. Are you cyber savvy? Do you do all that stuff?
ANDERSON: Yes, tweet my @louieanderson.
ANDERSON: Yes. I was able to have be myself, you know. you are going to tweet @louieanderson. I'm at facebook @louieanderson. And, you know, the whole thing about it is, I'm a little behind, like I don't always get the tweeting thing right.
ANDERSON: You know, like sometimes I'll say I'm at whole foods and people will go, so what. Well, I'm hungry.
LEMON: I love when people say I just saw Don Lemon in whole foods. I'm like, why didn't come up and say hello?
ANDERSON: I used to tweet where I was eating and then people wanted to join me. And so, you have to wait. There's a time limit.
LEMON: Yes. I know. Here at CNN, the execs and security said, why are you telling people where you're eating. I said, I don't do that until after I'm gone. I'm done by the time you get it. That's a little secret.
Hold on Louie Anderson, we are going to have more with you. We're going to talk about the news that we heard tonight on this show.
ANDERSON: Would love to.
LEMON: This news, is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHONG: My announcement is that I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Bad news from Tommy Chong of "Cheech and Chong." We are going to talk more with Louie Anderson about that.
LEMON: OK. So we're back and there he is, comedian Louie Anderson.
I spoke with Tommy Chong earlier, and he made the announcement that he had prostate cancer, treating it with hemp oil.
ANDERSON: Hemp oil?
LEMON: Yes. But he said marijuana is in the bible, therefore, we should be able to use it and should not be taxed.
ANDERSON: It's Sam 20 -- no.
LEMON: Have you ever --
ANDERSON: You know, I used to smoke marijuana. People always want me to smoke. They would say Louie, do you want to smoke marijuana? I go listen, I don't need another reason to be hungry, all right? I do not need it. But -- it was never one of my favorite things, to be honest with you. It's a lot of work. Yes, the rolling, the bong.
LEMON: According to Tommy, they bring it to your house.
ANDERSON: I like the idea of it in brownies. Shouldn't all medicine be given in peanut butter like for dogs or in brownies for human? If I stroke, medicine.
LEMON: Shouldn't we stop this holier than thou thing?
ANDERSON: Yes, let's. LEMON: Most people I know, I have to be honest, holy rollers, whatever, have smoked pot or either smoke pot.
LEMON: And professional people, women will tell me, friends will say you have cramps, let's smoke some pot. So then, why do we have this holier than thou attitude?
ANDERSON: Well, here's what has happened. We have this now, and he is part of our culture, but its unspoken part. Let's just say, you know, when people, instead of having a drink after work, might smoke some marijuana to relax.
I mean, I think it's become part of it and people are just like -- I think it's part of our culture that we won't recognize because of some really, you know, really religious reasons, and very reason and some -- you know, conservatives always use drugs to scare everyone. If drugs are legalized, then they're going to start coming and stealing our kittens.
LEMON: Well listen, I'm speaking strictly about marijuana. Because if you look at the pharmacology of it, there are drugs that I don't think should be legalized.
ANDERSON: No, I agree with you.
LEMON: But when you look at marijuana, and the experts I speak to say when you look at the pharmacology and what it does, it would be better to sort of legislate it so that young people can't buy it. So, that you can -- if it hurts someone, there's no stigma in getting them treatment for it.
ANDERSON: Listen, if people, if kids are killing themselves with alcohol poisoning and killing each other in car accidents and doing that stuff, it isn't any different than marijuana. I mean, marijuana, we don't want them doing either one to access, but marijuana should be legalized. We should tax it. It could be a crop. It could help the economy. I agree with all that.
LEMON: All right. Listen, we have to run. But tell me real quickly, you're in Vegas.
ANDERSON: I'm at the Palace Theater, Louie Anderson Theater at the palace station. I get it right. You can go all there, folks. You will forget everything.
LEMON: And Louie is going to come back. He says, he wants to talk politics, talk about the president.
ANDERSON: I do.
LEMON: You can watch Louie Anderson's ongoing comedy show live in Las Vegas. It's called "Big Baby Boomer." It is at Louie Anderson Theater.
ANDERSON: That's right.
LEMON: Named after you.
ANDERSON: And that will be someone else's if I don't do well. So, please.
LEMON: Palace station and casino. Keep an eye out for him on CNT, the CNT show. "Big Baby Boomer, 2."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We've got little people with big problems over Snow White's dwarves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There's something wicked ant the new Snow White movie, and it's got nothing to do with the witch. The actress playing the dwarves may look like little people, they look like little people, but they aren't little people at all. Their images were digitally manipulated to make them look shorter.
This has outraged many real little people. They argue it's hard enough to find parts in Hollywood. And here to talk about the controversy are Matt and Amy Roloff, stars of TLC's "Little People, Big World." It's a great show and you have to watch it. It is on TLC. They join me now from Portland.
Hey guys, so what do you make of this? Are you angry about this casting situation in Snow White?
AMY ROLOFF, TLC'S LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD: Well, I don't think I'm angry. I think I'm more disappointed and sad that here's an opportunity to really have people that don't get very many roles, that don't get very many opportunities, a part in a major, major movie. And just because of technology, they're using other people and making them look like little people. I'm just very sad that that Hollywood would go that route.
LEMON: You know, Matt, when I first heard this story, it sort made me think about Dorothy and Lena Horne and where they would use their music but then, in movies, they cast a white woman and use dark makeup, right?
And, you know, if the part is for a little person, then, why not hire a little person to do the part?
MATT ROLOFF, TLC'S LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD: I think that's baffling to us, I mean. But, you know, it's not all bad. We're glad, for example, that if you want to call it Hollywood or TLC has put Amy and I on in a real way and we are real people playing ourselves.
So, you know, there's some bright spots out there. But definitely, I think, we're both disappointed that, you know, they would not guess we have a lot of friends that are little people that are out there, they are actors and that are working, that are qualified. Why they would not put these people to work and give them the opportunity and the jobs, you know. It's disappointing to us. So we would like to see that obviously.
LEMON: Yes. And Matt and Amy, I believe it was "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the hobbit and dwarfs actors weren't little people either.
AMY ROLOFF: Yes, it was the same thing. And I think the little people community also were kind of disappointed and upset about that, too. I mean, you know, if you're going to have a role that's kind a typical for a dwarf person, there's a lot of qualified people that I'm sure you could find a few to fit these roles. So why go the technology route to make average size people look like little people. It's, you know, like Matt says, kind of baffling.
MATT ROLOFF: Yes. The problem is not just little people, it is really anybody with disabilities. I mean, there's 50 million people or something people in America with disabilities and there's a very small percentage that are playing roles on television.
I think there was, you know, two percent or some number I read recently in screen actors' guild report. You know, it's a few years old. And it's like, let's put some of these people that are in wheelchairs. I think "Glee" is an example to have a young man that's not really in a wheelchair but playing a guy in a wheelchair. Let's put that, you know, let's put some people to work that are in this, you know, with disabilities or little people. And I think that would be a great objective.
LEMON: So obviously, you don't think that little people have achieved equality, at least in Hollywood, in the country, as well. When do you think -- do you think that day will ever come and will it come soon?
AMY ROLOFF: You know, I think the door is opening. I mean, look at our show, "Little People, Big World." There is a little couple. There was even a sitcom, "Boston Legal" which Meredith Eden who we know very well, played a lawyer. I mean, that was a role that an average sized person could have been in. Or you could have placed anybody in that role. They happen to put a little - you know, her, playing that role.
So I mean, there are opportunities. The door is opening up a little bit bigger. I think we have a long way to go. Not only for little people, but I think for anyone of a disability. Because this is an opportunity that they may see, I would love to perform if there were roles or an opportunity to do that. But when you have something like this happen, it's kind of discouraging.
MATT ROLOFF: It's definitely getting better, but it is never quite fasten up and sharing up. But we're very pleased with the progress that's been made in recent years in our show.
LEMON: And I just have to say you guys are making a difference. And I want to thank you for joining us. And I want tell everybody, here's how you're making a difference. Because your show is a success and the TLC show, "Little People, Big World." There's a special about the role of your 25th wedding anniversary that airs tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern on TLC.
Thank you so much, guys. Keep being trailblazers and good luck with the show. And your personal life, as well.
AMY ROLOFF: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Up next, we'll hit the entertainment news that you've been talking about that's and more of that like this one that's got a lot of people mad and hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The back story on an "America's Got Talent" singer who is apparently a talented liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the truth that I truly think is real.
LEMON: Busted for posing as an injured American war veteran.
LEMON: An "America's Got Talent" contestant accused of lying about his military past, apologizing, sort of. He insists he wasn't fibbing intentionally.
Comedian Dean Obeidallah joins me now from New York to break this down for us.
Dean, I don't know if you read much about the controversy. He said he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and got a purple heart. None of which is true. And people in the show, their hearts went out to this guy. Maybe that helped him in the standings. What do you make of this?
OBEIDALLAH: I'm sure it did. I mean, when you watched the interview, he stammered and stuttered. And I haven't seen that much stammered since the King's Speech. I mean, this guy was great. He should have got an Oscar. It turns out it's even not true. There's a clip of him, he's not stammering or stuttering anymore. He made up the whole thing.
You actually have to feel sorry for him. He did serve in the military for nine years. He was an injured during in Iraq or Afghanistan like he said. But obviously, he suffered some kind of problem, maybe schizophrenia or maybe he's just, I hate to say it, maybe he is a liar. But I think there's something there.
LEMON: Listen. Is there anything worse, I hate to say this, than lying about military service, especially when we have so many heroes who are coming back injured or who are not coming back at all, to promote yourself on a talent show nonetheless? OBEIDALLAH: On the level of lies, that's way up there. If I also, if I were to cheat on my girlfriend and lie about that, that would be close to the same level, I think, Don.
But in the big picture of thing, it's horrible. And that's why this man did serve in the military. He knows the difference between going to Iraq and not going to Iraq. You know, if I go to New Jersey, I remember I go to New Jersey or not. He doesn't remember if he went to Iraq or Afghanistan at this point. Something happened to him. They have to get to the root of that story.
LEMON: Do you think this is going to change the way they vet these talent show and reality show people? Just a few seconds left here.
OBEIDALLAH: That was my big issue. I said no one at "America's Got talent" looked into it a little bit more? But, you know, in their defense, maybe you Google him, you see he's been telling this story for years, for years and veterans groups have given him money. And then, they see the worst. I mean, he is taking money from veterans groups that should have went to wounded veterans. So it's definitely wrong.
LEMON: All right. Dean Obeidallah, thank you. We are going to take a look at a real hero, next.
OBEIDALLAH: Thanks, Don.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got back from Iraq, I stayed away from large crowds, malls, movies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I won't leave the house, just didn't want it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stayed inside. Windows were blacked out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was really numb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: didn't feel like I have a purpose in life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nightmares, constantly, flashback. Everything to me is still a combat zone.
MARY CORTANI, COMMUNITY CRUSADER Veterans with invisible wounds. We can't see a wheelchair, a prosthetic leg. They appear like you and I.
But their suffering goes so deep it touches the soul.
I learned how to train dogs while I served in the army. I knew that a dog can add a lot in your life. I realized this is what I was supposed to do. My name is Mary Cortani. I match veterans with service dogs, train them as a team so that they can navigate life together.
When a vet has been trained with their own service dog, they have a mission and purpose again.
Talk to them, tell them they did good.
Dogs are taught to create a spatial barrier and can alert them when they start to get anxious.
Are you OK, getting overwhelmed? Focus on Maggie.
The dog is capable of keeping them grounded.
You're focusing on him and he's focusing on everything around you.
You start to see them get their confidence back, communicate differently. They venture out and they're beginning to participate in life again. Being able to help them find that joy back in their life, it's priceless.
LEMON: All right. Everybody is asking me about this ring tonight. This is my dad's wedding ring. He liked his bling and he's no longer with us. So I wear it. There you go.
It doesn't mean anything. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here tomorrow night.