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Morgan Spurlock on 'Inside Man': 'Each week I get to be immersed into a different world'
June 23rd, 2013
04:56 PM ET

Morgan Spurlock on 'Inside Man': 'Each week I get to be immersed into a different world'

Tonight at 10 p.m., watch the premiere of the CNN Original series "Inside Man," hosted and produced by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, which profiles the medical marijuana industry.

CNN: It sounds like what makes "Inside Man" different from other shows is the fact that you truly and fully performed eight different jobs. Can you tell me a little bit about what each of those jobs entailed?

Morgan Spurlock: The best part of “Inside Man” is that each week I get to be immersed into a different world. I'm neck-deep in an experiential story that takes me to the front lines of some of the most debated issues in the country today: marijuana, guns, immigration, education, elder care, unions, bankrupt cities and the worst drought in U.S. history.

For marijuana, I worked in the largest dispensary in the United States, Harborside Medical in Oakland, California. It's a non-profit cooperative that sells more than $25 million worth of marijuana and cannabis products per year. It's pretty incredible, and in the episode, I become your weed connoisseur.

After that, I head to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and work alongside the good folks at SSG Tactical, one of Virginia's most reliable and success gun retailers. While there, I sell firearms to the well-armed masses while we try to understand what drives America's gun culture.

The next week, I make my way to Florida to pick oranges alongside a few of the millions of country's immigrant laborers. While Washington debates what to do with the huddled masses, I attempt to understand what brings them here and why they risk so much to be part of the fabric of America.

Week 4 is all about education, and I follow in my mom's footsteps, becoming a teacher in both Finland, which has the most successful education program in the world, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which for years has not had the most respected pedigree when it comes to preparing our kids for the future. But things are changing, and schools are now taking greater risks to achieve greater rewards.

Probably my favorite episode of the season is Week 5, where we look at the world of elder care and end-of-life issues. I go back home to West Virginia and move in with my 91-year-old grandmother, Tootie. She still lives on her own and is still a pistol, but once you reach that age, health problems abound, and if you don't prepare for them early enough, you have much bigger problems down the road.

Week 6 looks at the largest bankrupt city in America, Stockton, California. Most of us have no idea what would ever cause a city to declare bankruptcy, let alone what it takes to get out of it. While here, I talk to the folks who it’s affecting the most: the citizens of Stockton, who, since the city filed for bankruptcy, have seen their police and fire departments downsized while crime and mortgage defaults escalate.

Did you know that 2012 was one of the worst droughts in U.S. history? Did you know that 2013 is predicted to be even worse? Well, unless you're one of the thousands of farmers or ranchers living in the heartland, you probably didn't, but you also probably didn't realize that it affects even you. In this episode, I move in with the Wellnitz family in Chadron, Nebraska. They've been ranching for years, but this could be one of their hardest years yet.

Our final episode in the series looks at unions in America. They were the backbone of the middle class for decades, but with the majority of manufacturing jobs now overseas, have the outstayed their welcome? I speak to the people are still fighting for their unions, as well as those who say it’s time for the free market to take over.

CNN: Name one thing about each industry you were embedded in that Americans would be surprised to learn.

MS: At the dispensary, I was surprised to see how many people came in who were legitimately sick.

- In the gun store, it was interesting to see how much fear drove purchases for most of the clientele.

- While picking oranges in Florida, I was blown away to learn how few American-born pickers actually exist - almost none.

- In the education episode, I couldn't believe how far behind we still are in America when it comes to educating our kids.

- While living with my grandmother in the elder-care episode, I was speechless when I learned how much it costs to go to a retirement home. Many of them are well over $6,000/month.

- In Stockton, America's largest bankrupt city, I couldn't believe how there were no ramifications for cities that make poor investment choices.

- While ranching in the drought episode, I was deeply moved by the passion and conviction of the Wellnitz family. To me, they are the core of what it means to be an American.

- In the union episode, it was fascinating to see that unions recognize how many mistakes they've made over the years.

CNN: I understand that at the marijuana dispensary, you were gobsmacked by the various forms of marijuana. Can you tell me about the different choices, maybe set the scene?

MS: First off, it’s beautiful there. It's better designed and prettier than many traditional health clinics I've been in. And on the shelves, Holy Toledo, are there a lot of choices! They had everything from jars of weed, to pre-rolled joints, to hash, to creams and salves, tinctures, lozenges, cookies, cakes, candy bars, drinks, you name it. If you can eat it, someone somewhere can put medical marijuana in it. I couldn't believe it.

CNN: What is your favorite product from the marijuana dispensary?

MS: They had marijuana tabs, like those Listerine breath strips you can buy. Pretty crazy.

CNN: The elder care episode was especially personal for you because you were caretaker for your own grandmother. Was it hard to balance the many day-in, day-out job requirements with your personal feelings about your grandmother?

MS: I love my grandmother. Would do anything for her. So for me, it was always much more about making sure she was happy and had everything she needed. When I was growing up, she was always so wonderful to me; I feel like it’s our responsibility to take care of our elders, but it just seems like society and our busy lives have made it too easy to lock the elderly away and justify it with a variety of excuses. I hope my kids will do the same for me, but in reality, they'll probably just put me out to pasture like an old horse.

CNN: What did you learn from your grandmother that you never would have found out had you not had the privilege of being her caretaker?

MS: I would not have heard so many intimate stories about her and my grandfather, how they fell in love, what life meant to her, and why she lived such a full and wonderful life.

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  1. DuWayne Krause

    The education show was of great interest to me since I am a teacher. Teaching the Finland way does work in the United States. I teach their way in an alternative high school in which most of my kids are poor and have a long history of school failure.In a short period of time I am able to take most kids from being math failures to successfully doing beginning college level work. I abhor the regimentation of the charter school which appears to turn their kids into mindless robots.

    July 29, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
  2. DuWayne Krause

    The gun show was so naive and scary. The debate was over before it started. There are going to be no new gun laws and we are going to keep on killing each other and then lament how can this be. Nathan Independent you want research. It already exists. The research shows that the more guns that are present the more likely that they will be used. The research shows that those guns that people have in their homes for protection are far, far, far, far more likely to be used on someone you know in an innocent situation like believing you shoot someone who is a burgler who turns out to be a member of the family. The research shows that contries that have tough gun control laws have virtually no gun homicides compared to the United States. You want common sense. Virtually all the research says we would be safer with tougher gun control laws. Gun advocates playing on and creating fears where no danger exists are making the United States a more dangerous place.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  3. Sue

    Morgan Spurlock Inside Man, is one of the best shows on CNN..t...very informative, excellent subject matter, and gets to the point....this program has something to say.....simply great.....

    July 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Reply
  4. porchsong

    this show has great potential but so far is a kind of watered down version of 30 days. i really don't care about the city of stockton either–can we get a show on some random small audience issues? the shut down of US online poker and STEALING of US CITIZEN'S money by the US government. and GMOs–if they are so safe, why can't we label them? or not that they would ever allow it, but go work inside a factory farm or meat processing plant. what if every town had community gardens that grew food for homeless people? what if instead of lawns everyone had a veggie garden? i know my ideas lean pretty liberal, but hey, it is cnn, not fox.

    July 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  5. Julie

    Would love to watch this online or on Hulu...

    July 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  6. Rick Owens

    Suggestion: Do a show entitled "What if the only ammunition available to the general public was Non-Lethal Ammo?" Passing such a law would not effect the grossly misinterpreted 2nd Amendment, but the best feature is that it would make all other gun control laws obsolete. Do you have the guts?...rick

    July 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  7. Leah

    I've watched every show/ documentary Morgan has ever done. He is an excellent journalist. I loved the 30 days episode about living in poverty. It was really truthful. I really like the Inside Man shows so far. Keep up the good work. I'm watching.

    July 5, 2013 at 1:24 am | Reply

    Dear Morgan......THANKS EVER SO MUCH FOR EXPO-ing the Medical Marijuana situation as it stands at the moment. I'M an over 60 granny.....I've spent much time weeping...and crying, for lack of SINCERE AND REAL PERSONAL CARE from physicians for my multiplicity of physical issues. I AND I'M SURE OTHERS...WOULD BEG...AND I DO MEAN BEG YOU to continue to reveal and interview, report on the many groups and associations that are trying to get medical marijuana legalized thru out our nation. HERE IN FLORIDA....we have a very huge population of seniors....PLEASE PROFILE A GROUP 'THESILVERTOUR.ORG'.. and LEAP....Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Morgan WE NEED YOU...PLEASE HELP BE THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE....Your bosses will be proud of you and SO WILL WE. We need YOUR VOICE MORGAN. Because of YOUR show, I was prompted to get online and do some scooting around. I FOUND SO MUCH INFORMATION, EXCELLENT INFORMATION. I know that if I had access to a strain called INDICA.....I could get off all the medication I'm on. Our grandmom continuously needs to have melanoma's removed....our sister just died from melanoma....another suffered such great pain she was kept unconscious – sedated so she could not be conscious of her highly debilitated condition and painful ending. FOR THE LOVE OF ALMIGHT GOD (uh...who gave us these plants) BE OUR ADVOCATE...AND A LOUD ONE AT THAT! Check out Morgan and Morgan Attys. they are in favor of MM legalization./decriminalization.

    By the way....your show is OUTSTANDING! GOOD JOB SON! Blessings to you...this grandmother will be praying for you dear one.............granny

    July 2, 2013 at 3:14 am | Reply
  9. Nathan Independant

    Oh and by the way, alot of focus on large capacity magazines used in the very rare mass shootings, but NO mention of the facts around shootings that are stopped and cut short by armed citizens. Do some research on the average number of victims when police stop a shooting vs. the number when a citizen (conceal carry-CCW) stops an active shooter. When seconds count, LEO are minutes away. Also NO mention of the fact that the cities with the highest shooting violence rates are those with the most restrictive gun laws. Chicago = forced victims. Common sense folks.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  10. Brian Whalen

    How about looking at the sports world, with an emphasis on football, and the use of all drugs. The PED's or banned drugs can speed recovery or "enhance" performance. The legal drugs don't get talked about much and some players might not be able to suit up without them and yet they are not considered performance enhancers. I remember a line from a Nick Nolte movie about pro football. His character had been caught using marijuana and his comment was something like "Hell, you guys give me a whole lot worse just to get me on the field on Sunday."

    June 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  11. sean g

    I missed it! how come CNN won't play it again?

    June 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  12. jon

    i missed the medical marijuana episode, and thats something that resonates hard with me, i'd very much like to see that episode, but my listings show it not being on cnn any time soon, any way i can watch it online?

    June 25, 2013 at 1:11 am | Reply
  13. Wendee72

    Rerun show! Missed it Sunday!

    June 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  14. Xero

    100% Service-Connected, disabled veteran (You're welcome for my service, but it wasn't my idea.)

    Besides PTSD, anxiety disorders, I have Type 2 Diabetes related neuropathy, arthritis pain, sleep issues. Marijuana would work to relieve much of this, and I qualify for a Medical Marijuana card in this state. Despite assurances by the state that card-holder information is closely guarded and absolutely confidential, I'm hesitant to obtain one because all my income, my mortgage payments, my medical care, benefits, etc. derives from the Federal Vets Admin.

    I fear loss of benefits if the Feds decide to crack down on something the states have overwhelmingly approved.

    Obama promised in 2008 election speeches that he would not expend law enforcement resources on marijuana distribution approved by the states - Then he's reneged on this promise (Never mind Gitmo, the wars funding, and surveillance).

    Nixon put marijuana into Controlled Substances Act, Schedule I Class as part of his "war on dissidents" - Nixon was/is a crook!

    Marijuana doesn't meet Schedule I Class criteria:

    "Potential for abuse." - Hell! Chocolate and bacon have potential for abuse!

    "No recognized medical utility. - Not true! But Feds won't allow research, so lots of medical applications cannot be considered.

    "Not considered safe under medical supervision." - No one has ever died from using marijuana. Can't say that about a lot of medically approved prescription meds.

    Govt. hypocrisy is funded by alcohol, private prison and Big Pharma lobbies. Obama used to smoke the stuff, but now he's in the pocket of the lobbyists and the other crooks in Wash. DC. "Absolute power absolutely corrupts."

    The American People need to make this a state's rights issue.

    June 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  15. Don Cherek

    Best new show I have seen in quite awhile. Very informative regarding a complex issue.
    Looking forward to next program on guns.
    72 yr old retired non-using professor.

    June 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  16. KWP

    After seeing the promos for weeks about this episode I feared that Morgan was going to present this subject with a negative bent against medical marijuana in California. Tonight I was pleasantly surprised that the episode was just the opposite and showcased a model of medical marijuana done correctly, lawfully and professionally. Thank you also for bringing to the forefront the hypocrisy of the federal government and how the deep-pocket lobbying of big pharma and alcohol are buying our government to unfairly prosecute these citizen-voted, legal dispensaries. As a chronic pain sufferer living in Illinois, a state which has just recently voted to legalize medical marijuana, I fear that the same may happen here before the program begins and that instead of finally finding true relief from my disease, I will be forced to continue to take a handful of pills that offer marginal help, yet plague me with a plethora of horrible physical side-effects. It is about time for the federal government listen to the will of the people as is dictated by the constitution!

    I also urge Morgan to investigate the new life-changing phenomena of electronic cigarettes. These devices just may be the answer to stop tobacco smoking in this country, thus reducing death and disease. But here again the deep pockets of big pharma, and in this case, the tobacco manufacturers are buying the law-making powers of the FDA to regulate these devices in a manner that will either make the large pharmaceutical companies a lot of money with their ineffective nicotine replacement therapies (the pills, patches and gum) or may end up keeping a percentage of our population smoking tobacco cigarettes for the foreseeable future. These proposed laws against electronic cigarettes are nothing more than ways to keep cash flowing to big tobacco and "sin" tax dollars flowing to government while ultimately keeping anti-smoking groups employed for decades to come.

    In fact, it's quite shocking to me just how similar both medical marijuana and electronic cigarettes have become the targets of the federal government. And if something does not change soon the citizens of this country will lose their options for good health over unscientific ideology and the Almighty Dollar!

    June 24, 2013 at 4:06 am | Reply
    • Bill K

      @ KWP – Very well said!!!

      June 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Reply

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