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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

America's High: The Case For and Against Pot; President Obama Speaks Out on Iranian Presidential Election

Aired June 15, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: President Obama weighing in on Iran, that as the world, whole world, watches a sea of people marching and at least one person dying to overturn an election and perhaps overthrow the hard-line government.

We have correspondents on the ground in Iran, ordinary Iranians on the phone line, plus a panel of experts standing by with insight on what this means for Iran and for all of us.

Also tonight, our exclusive week-long look at marijuana, "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot." We begin tonight. We will take you inside a California pharmacy where you can buy marijuana lollipops and 30 different kinds of pot. We will speak with singer Melissa Etheridge, who battled cancer and chemotherapy side effects with medical marijuana and calls pot a godsend, plus, a woman who had the opposite experience. She says medical marijuana left her in worse shape -- all sides of the issue. You can decide for yourself.

We begin, though, with the breaking news -- the sun now coming up in Iran, ordinary Iranians, rich and poor, getting ready for a new day of protests, now armed with the first hint of support tonight from the president of the United States -- President Obama speaking out for the first time since Friday's disputed election, condemning the deadly violence today on the streets of Tehran.

Looking here at new images we have just gotten in, amateur video of riots and gunshots north of Tehran's Azadi Square, the protesters setting fire to a building -- you can see it there -- paramilitary forces loyal to the government reportedly on top of the building, gunshots echoing, happening at the site. You hear the gunshots right there. You hear the cries.

More violence, meantime, administered on streets and sidewalks. Take a look at these pictures, plainclothes, truncheon-wielding security officers, some armed on motorcycles chasing down crowds, breaking bones, cracking heads. The truth is, we simply do not know how many people may have been hurt today.

Here is what the president said earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am deeply troubled by the violence that I have been seeing on television. I think that the -- the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent, all those are universal values and need to be respected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The president went on to say that whatever happens inside Iran is up to the Iranian people.

The question tonight, at this hour, are these the pictures of Iranians in the early stages of tossing out one kind of government and putting something new in its place?

More on that shortly and what this means to this country after 30 years of hearing death to America and, more recently, worrying about ayatollahs with atom bombs.

First, the very latest from the ground, Christiane Amanpour, and a warning; Some of what you will see is very tough to take.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets again Monday in a march that tens of thousands ended up joining.

They chanted and cheered as they wound their way around Freedom Square. Although the police had said such rallies would be banned and no protest permits would be issued, the government ended up allowing this one to take place.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed along the route of the march, but they did not intervene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are protesting against the -- the leader who is not actually the real leader of Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want Mir Hossein Mousavi. I want freedom.

AMANPOUR: At this rally, the freedom at least to air political grievances.

(on camera): This is the same place where the Mousavi supporters held their big pre-election rally. And, this time, they have come and stayed for two hours and more waiting to hear from him.

(voice-over): Finally, clearing up the mystery of his whereabouts and his safety, Mousavi arrived and, from the top of a vehicle, addressed the throngs in his first public appearance since Friday's election.

MIR HOSSEIN MOUSAVI, IRANIAN REFORMIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Our people are after respect, their votes and their right.

AMANPOUR: Allowing this rally to proceed peacefully appears to be a deliberate decision by the government to change the tone of the past few days and try to show that it's dealing with this election dispute within the country's own democratic parameters.

But, as the rally ended, gunfire was heard.

(GUNSHOTS)

AMANPOUR: This disturbing image of at least one reported death.

Eyewitnesses say the shots were fired by the plainclothes hard- line revolutionary militias. Earlier, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, issued a statement saying that Mousavi should air his election complaints through the legal channel, the Guardian Council, which vets all electoral matters. And the council, in turn, said that it would investigate Mousavi's complaints and make a decision soon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Christiane joins us now.

What is the next step, legally, to verify this vote? I mean, is this a real end or is this is a foregone conclusion?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's hard to say what the outcome will be, but the opposition leaders, including, of course, Mousavi, are meant to be going to the Guardian Council, I was told, today. And then we will see how the rest of it unfolds.

But what I found very interesting about yesterday, until the very end of the day, was that they had taken this decision to try to allow this, political rallies, to take place in a peaceful atmosphere. And what they told us they were doing was cracking down on the violence.

COOPER: So, it is a new day. We can see dawn behind you. Do we know what to expect? Are there going to be more demonstrations?

AMANPOUR: There have been some called for. It is hard to know whether they will take place.

COOPER: All right, Christiane, stay with us. We're going to come back to you in just a moment.

As Christiane mentioned, the protesting anger playing out into the night, small fires burning across Tehran. There are reports coming in minute by minute on blogs and Twitter, some of the details simply remarkable. We are getting reports that sympathetic residents have been leaving doors and gates unlocked or opened a crack, so that protesters being chased by police can seek quickly refuge inside their homes.

Twitter, by the way, was scheduled to shut down for maintenance tonight, but is staying up so that Iranians can stay in touch with the outside world.

We are lucky to have one such person on the phone with us tonight. We're concealing her identity out of concern for her safety. Her first name is Rana. She's 25. She was on the streets today. She has been on the streets now for several days.

Rana, you were one of the first people to take to the streets of Tehran after the election results were announced. What drove you to the streets?

RANA, EYEWITNESS TO PROTESTS IN IRAN: First of all, I was a concerned citizen. I studied sociology. And I am president (INAUDIBLE) society.

We have friends on the Mousavi committee. And because I was so frustrated about the outcome of the election, that me and my friends, we just started to gather around noon in front of the (INAUDIBLE) the newspaper, in front of the building. And that's when we started gathering. And the protest began from there.

COOPER: I want to show our viewers some images from the aftermath of the shooting in Azadi Square, also known as Freedom Square, following this rally today. And I want to warn the people the -- the picture is graphic.

I know you have witnessed personally outbreaks of violence. Describe for our viewers what you have seen.

RANA: Yesterday, we started marching towards Azadi Square, or Freedom Square, at around 3:30.

And it was a very peaceful protest. We just raised our hands. We -- we raised our hands with the peace sign. And it was relatively quiet. Nobody really (INAUDIBLE) anything or said anything yet. But then, afterwards, when everybody had circled the square and they were heading home, and the crowd was dispersing, people started to hear gunshots.

I could hear gunshots coming from the right-hand of the -- of the square. And people were -- were terrified, because the gunshots would not stop. And then they were all looking in one direction, and I started looking in that direction also.

And we could see that the gunshots were coming from a -- a remote building. And the people said that it was from (INAUDIBLE) or plainclothes security officers, that...

COOPER: Are you fearful for your own security, for your own safety now?

RANA: Yes, of course, yes, because...

COOPER: Do you have -- do you have friends who have been taken away?

RANA: Yes.

I have a friend that has been taken away for three days right now, from -- from Saturday that we went to the streets. He's been gone. At first, we thought that his mobile phone was -- his mobile phone was shut down and he couldn't reach us. But, then, we learned that he was taken Evin prison.

COOPER: A legendary prison, a scary prison, where it is known in other cases there has been torture.

Rana, I appreciate you calling us. Stay safe. We will continue to stay in touch with you over these coming days.

COOPER: Let us know what you think. Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.

Up next, we will be back with Christiane Amanpour in the ground -- on the ground, also, Reza Aslan and David Gergen looking at the evidence the election may have been rigged. What happens next? And the new challenges for President Obama.

Later, only 360, the battle over legalizing marijuana. We're covering all the angles each every night in-depth. Tonight, using marijuana to treat illness, it is legal in California, and business is booming. Does it work? We talk tonight to singer Melissa Etheridge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA ETHERIDGE, MUSICIAN: The first time I did it for a medicinal purpose, it was -- instantly -- I mean instantly, within a minute, relieves the nausea, relieves the pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Not everyone agrees. We have both sides, as well as a look inside a medical marijuana dispensary, a pot pharmacy, where everything from brownies to lollipops, or cookies right there, to cannabis, breath strips are available.

"America's High: The Case For and Against Pot" -- tonight on 360.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More on the breaking news. We are talking tonight about Iran. Thirty years after the revolution that ousted the shah, took Americans hostage and changed our lives, tonight, with President Obama weighing in, Iran supreme leader appearing to bend, and people gearing up for a new day on the streets, we're asking, what happens now?

Before we do, I want to show you up close what Iranians experienced today at street level. Take a look, some of the images we have seen from the last several days -- protesters today, at least, apparently, one death reported.

"Digging Deeper" now on the election, the outrage, and the implications, we're joined again, Christiane Amanpour in Tehran, Reza Aslan, author of "How to Win a Cosmic War," and senior political analyst David Gergen. Christiane, for those who haven't followed Iran, the inner workings, why is what is happening now so significant, so shocking?

AMANPOUR: Well, it is significant because this is the first time this kind of political activism has poured out into the streets and has been allowed to continue.

I think this is what is very, very significant, that, in the past, there have been some student demonstrations over the last 10 years, two outbursts, and they were rapidly put down. This time, they have been able to be on the streets.

And I think the very important distinction between the weekend and yesterday was the way it turned, in terms of that rally that was allowed to proceed peacefully. I know what happened at the end, when other elements got involved, and it got violent.

But, here, they are very conscious about wanting people to know that they allowed that rally to go off peacefully. And, furthermore, what is also different about is that we have been able to, the press has been able to cover it. They have been given certain time limits on visas to cover elections, but they have been able to cover all this. And people have been able to go into the streets.

And what we have been told is that the crackdown is on the violent elements of -- of the protests, for instance, some of the bus burnings, but more of the -- of the violent elements that -- that turn out in the evening. So, that is the difference in what we have experienced here, compared to before.

COOPER: And the image that so many people are talking about tonight -- and, again, I just want to warn our viewers, before we show it, it's graphic -- apparently, what looked like either a shooting victim or some sort of head injury victim in -- in Azadi Square, also called Freedom Square.

Do we know anything of the story surrounding this? And -- and what -- what -- and I don't know if you can say, but what sort of security personnel are on the ground during these demonstrations?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, what -- what was just so awful about that is that the whole afternoon had proceeded peacefully.

You just heard from that interview you just had that people were in the streets. They were allowed to pro -- process. There were police and riot police lining the route, but did not intervening, the official forces.

And then it turned ugly in one location towards the end. I mean, this was a -- a rally with tens of thousands of people. And, then, apparently, these plainclothes people, according to eyewitnesses -- and we have not been able to -- to -- to confirm that ourselves, exactly what happened, although we were there, but not at that precise moment -- then this happened.

But the actual rally had gone off very, very peacefully. And I was actually really surprised not to see any police at the -- at the Freedom Square, the Azadi Square.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, I appreciate your reporting. I know we are going to lose the satellite signal in just a moment.

Reza, for you, the significance. What -- what is happening that we need to know?

REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR: GOD, GLOBALIZATION, AND THE END OF THE WAR ON TERROR": Well, I think that what is really unusual about these protests, and then what separates them from protests similar to this that we saw at the end of the '90s, during Mohammad Khatami's presidency, is that this represents a strange coalition.

It is not just students and reformists who are taking to the streets. It's some conservative groups, some clerical supporters. I think that you are seeing a -- a coalition between people like Khatami on the left and former President Rafsanjani, who is sometimes referred to as a centrist.

I think what this represents is that the clerical establishment feels somewhat threatened by the really bald-faced way in which this election was stolen. They think that maybe what is taking place here is something akin to a military coup, and that the Revolutionary Guard, which, after all, stands behind Ahmadinejad -- Ahmadinejad, is becoming an increasing presence in the political realm.

COOPER: David, do we know that the election was stolen? I mean, do we really -- do we know -- is there enough evidence to really be able to say that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We don't have enough hard evidence, but the overwhelming indications are that, when you have -- today, we had -- we had -- we had a -- a protest that went five miles.

And this is the largest protest we have had in 40 years in -- in -- in Iran. So, given that, the overwhelming indications are that this is fraudulent.

But I think that the -- it -- it -- this is not only an Iranian story. It is also a story about President Obama. This is yet another dramatic test for this new president. Since his Cairo speech, especially, the world is looking to him for leadership. And, so, he has to give voice to this new -- this -- these -- these protesters and on behalf of democracy.

But, as George Bush Sr. advised today, he doesn't want to inflame tensions and he doesn't want to make it totally impossible to negotiate with whatever government that emerges, especially if Ahmadinejad holds on to power.

COOPER: I want to play, David, for our viewers, just something else that President Obama said late today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries. And we will see where it takes us. But, even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we have seen on the television over the last few days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Reza, there -- we have a question from our Facebook page which kind of relates to that. It's from Matthew (ph). He asks, what if Ahmadinejad actually did win?

ASLAN: Well, he may very well have won, but he certainly didn't win by a 2-1 margin. And I think the that is the issue that is at stake here.

I have to say I kind of disagree a little bit with -- with what David said, is that, you know, Obama has to be very careful here. He has to tread very lightly, because he did a marvelous job during the elections of making sure that neither he nor the United States was an issue in this election. And that kind of hamstrung Ahmadinejad.

He couldn't talk about sort of the "national security, America is coming to get us," you know, campaign that has basically been so much a part of his platform for the last four years.

And I think Obama wants to make sure that he sort of steps back, that he doesn't give the state in Iran or the Ahmadinejad supporters an opportunity to point at the United States and say, this is America meddling once again.

COOPER: David, what about that?

GERGEN: Yes, but -- well, I -- I -- I think that is right, up to a point. He does not want to inflame tensions.

But, as world leader, I think it is not just what he says; it's now what he does. And it is very important, if he really wants to turn the page, for him now to reach out to other leaders in other nations and -- and to form a consensus. No, it is not just America telling Iran, but it's -- rather, it's a consensus of nations that he leads.

And that is where he will get his strength and power and the respect that he needs, because he does -- he has many interests here. This is a very delicate moment for him. He can't be too weak, but he can't interfere too much. And that requires a lot of balancing and a lot of finesse.

COOPER: We -- we have got to leave it there, unfortunately.

David Gergen, Reza Aslan, Christiane Amanpour, as well, thank you very much.

Obviously, we are going to continue to follow this in the days ahead, and we're going to follow developments in Iran throughout the hour tonight and the night. Learn more. You can go to AC360.com. You're going to find an especially gripping series of Twitter messages. It's an account of what happened when gunshots rang out today on the streets of Tehran. You should check that out on our blog.

COOPER: Straight ahead, though, tonight, two views of medical marijuana. Singer Melissa Etheridge tells us why she credits it with helping her survive chemotherapy from breast cancer. And Lisa, who says, it made a bad illness even worse for her.

But you're going to be surprised at the larger conclusion that she draws about the whole controversy.

And, next, the CIA director takes a shot at Dick Cheney. And Republicans erupt in outrage. We will tell you what was said and why it is touching off an uproar tonight.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up on 360: the growing fight over medical marijuana. You're going to hear from two patients who had very different experiences with the drug. It's a 360 special report, "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot." It's a weeklong special, which begins tonight.

First, Erica joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, on Wall Street, all three indices feeling -- falling, rather, more than 2 percent. The sell-off ended a three-month run-up for stocks. The Dow lost 187 points on the session. The Nasdaq fell 42, while the S&P 500 dropped 22.

A CIA spokesman today downplaying Director Leon Panetta's recent comments about former Vice President Dick Cheney in "The New Yorker" magazine. According to the spokesman, Mr. Panetta does not believe Mr. -- does not believe Dick Cheney is hoping for another terrorist attack against the United States.

And first lady Michelle Obama kicking off a White House music series with a jazz workshop today. Musical legends Wynton Marsalis -- in fact, the whole Marsalis family -- and Paquito D'Rivera there playing for the audience, as well as 150 students from the nation's top music schools who were invited. The music series will focus next on country and classical music. That happens later this year -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow. How cool for a kid to be able to play at the White House? Amazing.

HILL: Yes, not -- not -- "So, what are you doing today?"

"I'm going to playing in the East Room of the White House with, you know, the Marsalises."

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes, not bad.

Coming up next: the start of our new series that gotten already a lot of buzz on our Web site, "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot."

Tonight, we look at medical marijuana. You will hear both sides. One woman says the drug drove nearly her to suicide. Melissa Etheridge says it helped her survive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you worry about abuse? And, I mean, certainly there are people who, you know, just want to get high, get a prescription, and it then makes it easier for them to buy marijuana.

ETHERIDGE: Well, then, again, there's people that want to take Percocet. And they're looking for that -- or Vicodin. You know, they're -- and this is a people issue. It is not the drug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Then we go inside a marijuana dispensary, where customers literally can pick their marijuana from a menu.

Also tonight, David Letterman's joke about Governor Sarah Palin's daughter has incited fury across the country. Tonight, even David Letterman is saying he went too far. Hear his apology tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: President Obama smoked pot when he was young, he said, a fact he has never tried to hide. Here's another fact.

Each day, an estimated 6,000 Americans will try marijuana for the first time. It's the most common illicit drug in the United States, with nearly 15 million people using it at least once a month.

But should marijuana be legalized? Let us know what you think. All this week, we are taking a close look at that deeply divisive issue in a series of eye-opening reports that may change your mind one way or other. It's a special 360 investigation. We're calling it "America's High: The Case For and Against Pot."

And we begin with the growing fight over medical marijuana. Now, as of right now, 13 states have laws that permit marijuana, also known as cannabis, to be taken for medical conditions. There's no prescription for cannabis. Instead, doctors issue a recommendation in these states.

But is it safe? Is it effective? Does it actually work?

Melissa Etheridge says it worked for her. The Grammy Award- winning singer/songwriter turned to marijuana after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In an interview, Etheridge tells me why she did it and how she believes it helped restore her health.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ETHERIDGE: I'm actually grateful for my cancer diagnosis.

COOPER: Grateful because it -- it changed your life?

ETHERIDGE: Changed my life, woke me up, totally.

COOPER (voice-over): Melissa Etheridge's wakeup call came in October 2004, when she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She immediately underwent two surgeries to remove the tumor and lymph nodes and then began what she calls the most painful experience of all, chemotherapy.

(on camera): What is the pain like?

ETHERIDGE: It was just a general pain of your body dying, of all your cells dying. And, so, your appetite is gone. And you are nauseous. And your hair is falling out. Your skin -- it's like death.

And -- and the only thing I could do is lay there. I can't -- it hurt to -- light hurt. Sound hurt. I couldn't read anything. I just laid there.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER (voice-over): Needing something to ease the pain, she didn't want to use Vicodin or other prescription pills that could be addictive or come with side effects.

ETHERIDGE: All of these things have side effects. So, the steroids and the -- the pain relief that they give you on that first day when you go into chemotherapy causes constipation. So, they -- well, here is a pill for the constipation, which will give you diarrhea...

(LAUGHTER)

ETHERIDGE: ... you know, which you -- and you get huge side effects from all of this.

COOPER: Etheridge decided to combat the pain of chemotherapy with medicinal marijuana.

(on camera): The first time you did it, it made a big difference?

ETHERIDGE: It instantly, I mean, instantly, within a minute, relieves the nausea, relieves the pain. And -- and, all of a sudden, I -- I was normal. You don't -- you don't take medicinal marijuana to get high. COOPER: So, it doesn't -- you didn't -- you weren't getting high?

ETHERIDGE: No. You don't get a high. No, it's not a high. It's a normal. And I could -- all of a sudden, I could get out of bed. I could go see my kids, like -- and it was amazing.

COOPER (voice-over): Often too sick from the chemotherapy to smoke, Etheridge's wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, would mix the marijuana into butter and spread it on Melissa's food. Or she would inhale it through a vaporizer.

Medicinal marijuana worked so well, Etheridge says she used it every four hours daily during chemotherapy.

(on camera): Did you ever worry about becoming addicted? Do you -- there are those who say, well, look, this is a gateway drug.

ETHERIDGE: No. It's not -- not at all.

If you ever were on that side of it, you would understand what I mean. It's -- it is almost laughable to think that -- that that -- you could be addicted to this. It's not at all.

COOPER: You mentioned you still have a prescription.

ETHERIDGE: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: Do you still use marijuana?

ETHERIDGE: Yes, I do. But the effects of -- on my gastrointestinal system, I have a real low tolerance for acid of any kind. So acid reflux is a constant problem.

And I don't want to take the pills that have all the side effects to help with that. And I do use it -- I'm one of the users that would like in a stressful situation, or maybe when I've eaten that cheese pizza with my kids, you know, that I will do that and it settles all that.

COOPER: Most people eat the cheese pizza after the marijuana.

ETHERIDGE: That's true.

COOPER: You've got it backwards.

ETHERIDGE: I know.

(singing) I run for hope, I run to feel, I run for the truth for all that is real.

COOPER (voice-over): Today at 48, Melissa Etheridge has been cancer free for five years. And she says she can't imagine having gone through the battle of her life without medicinal marijuana. She is now pushing for its legalization. (on camera) There's more than, I think, 200,000 people in California who are registered to receive medicinal marijuana. Do you really believe that all those people, though, have legitimate reasons to be getting marijuana?

ETHERIDGE: Yes. If it helps somebody at the end of the day instead of drinking a couple of glasses of wine, to have a few tokes, who are we to say? Why must we be in this country so judgmental about this? These people aren't hurting anybody. They're not hurting themselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Melissa Etheridge and I covered a lot of ground. You can see more of the conversation, more of the interview, at AC360.com. That's where you can also join the live chat, which is happening now. Let us know what you think about this issue. Again, AC360.com is the site.

Up next, a much different view of medical marijuana. A teacher says she bought as much pot as she wanted, and she thought it would ease her pain for bipolar disorder. Instead, she says it nearly drove her to suicide.

Plus, a medical marijuana dispensary. We'll take you inside one where the choices seem endless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So these names of different cannabis, these are all given by the people who are growing it?

JOANNA LAFORCE, CO-OWNER & CLINICAL DIRECTOR, THE PHARMACY: Exactly.

COOPER: Their particular blend?

LAFORCE: Exactly.

COOPER: So there's like Bubba Joe, Mendo Purple, Princess Third Eye, Air Force Once.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Air Force One. How about that?

Later on tape, the bizarre battle between a state trooper and a paramedic. Have you seen this video? Two of them fighting, and the patient is in the back of the ambulance. What's behind this scuffle? We'll have the video and what happened afterwards when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Before the break you heard from singer Melissa Etheridge in her own words, explaining why she used marijuana to battle the pain after she learned she had breast cancer. Melissa Etheridge is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, but another woman who used marijuana to treat her illness is not. She said it nearly drove her to suicide.

And her story raises a lot of questions, not only about the effectiveness of the drug, but about the wide discretion doctors have in giving it or recommending it.

Randi Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When this California schoolteacher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder nine years ago, she decided to medicate with marijuana. She asked us not to identify her, so we'll call her Lisa.

Lisa found a doctor online to recommend medical marijuana. She showed me how easy it was.

LISA, USED MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Yes, you just type in "finding medical marijuana doctor." And a list of Web sites will pop up.

KAYE: Before she started using medical marijuana, Lisa says depression would keep her in bed for weeks. She also had thoughts of suicide. Medical marijuana was supposed to make life better for her. But remember, once she got the paperwork, Lisa could buy as much marijuana as she wanted at the California dispensary, and it was all legal.

LISA: "Here's a free gram for coming. And you can try this blend or this blend. In fact, we have plants over here if you'd like to buy some clones to grow your own. We're going to throw in some edibles for you. We're going to give you some cookies, going to give you some brownies, you know, just for being such a good customer."

KAYE: Lisa had smoked marijuana before for fun. She says she never imagined she could get addicted. But this was so easy to buy, and the better it made her feel, the more she wanted to smoke. Lisa became hooked, spending as much as $1,000 a month on the drug.

(on camera) What does that translate into?

LISA: It's about seven, eight joints a day.

KAYE: Eight joints a day you were smoking?

LISA: Bong rips. I would wake up in the morning, have a nice bong rip. And then I would, on the way to work, I would smoke. I would leave during my break and smoke. I would smoke on the way home. I would smoke all night long.

KAYE: Psychiatrist Denise Green didn't treat Lisa. In fact, she says Lisa never should have been approved for medical marijuana.

DR. DENIS GREEN, PSYCHIATRIST: Long-term side effects of chronic marijuana use, psychologically, are depression and anxiety. So anyone who certainly has underlying psychiatric illnesses should not be using marijuana on top of that.

KAYE: Adding to the problem, Dr. Green says medical marijuana isn't dispensed or controlled the way other medications are. There are no limits and no fine print for how to take the drug.

GREEN: It's not a standard prescription. It's not like, you know, smoke one joint every eight hours for pain, and the prescription says you can get 12 joints.

KAYE: Lisa hit rock bottom two years ago. The marijuana had started to affect her negatively. Her mood swings became more extreme. In June, 2007, she found herself on the verge of suicide. Her parents called police, had her rushed to the hospital. That was the last time Lisa ever touched the stuff.

LISA: It saved my life for a long time, and then it stopped saving my life and it started killing my life.

KAYE: Today Lisa has been clean two years. She goes to meetings at Marijuana Anonymous and takes lithium daily, a much more controlled way to manage her moods, she says, instead of smoking marijuana whenever she felt like getting high.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Randi joins us now.

Is it -- you know, Lisa does think medical marijuana should be legal, even though she says she had a bad experience with it.

KAYE: Right. I mean, she was somebody who was very prone to addiction because of her bipolar disorder. So she...

COOPER: She considered suicide, you said, before even trying it?

KAYE: Right. Even before that. She tried marijuana in college and had used it for fun.

But she doesn't believe it should be legalized for somebody like her, who has this addictive personality. But for somebody like Melissa Etheridge, who had cancer, or somebody else who has another physical ailment and is looking to help them get rid of pain or things like that, then she thinks it should be legal. But she -- she really enjoyed the high, unlike what Melissa Etheridge told you.

COOPER: It seems like she was kind of chasing a high, and she woke up, would do bong hits. It seems like she enjoyed being high for a long time, and then suddenly it was no longer -- was what she wanted.

KAYE: Right. I mean, she didn't hide that at all. She told us she loved the high; she chased the high. But it also made her feel better.

And then something happened along the way, and her mood swings got very extreme. She got very dark. She was angry all the time. She nearly lost her job. And then she was hospitalized when she became so close -- came so close to committing suicide.

COOPER: Two different views. Our viewers can make up their own mind. Let us know what you think at our blog, AC360.com. A lot of people talking on the blog about it right now.

The question is how easy is it to actually get medical marijuana? You saw some of that in Randi's report. We're going to show you tomorrow on our special series, "America's High," the case for and against pot continues.

But next, a menu for medical marijuana. We'll show you the blends, the names, the mixes, all available inside one of hundreds of dispensaries in California. We'll take you to one and show you the wide selection to choose from.

Plus, an update on the teen who ran away instead of undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. He is now getting treatment. We'll have the latest on his condition, ahead.

And late-night apology. David Letterman's very public feud with Governor Sarah Palin takes a new turn, it seems, a final turn, perhaps. It's the funnyman who's setting the record straight tonight with an apology. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All this week we're taking you to the frontlines of the war over legalizing marijuana in our 360 special reports, "America's High: The Case for and Against Pot."

So 13 states approved the use to use the drug for medicinal purposes. Among them, of course, is California. The state of California has hundreds of dispensaries where marijuana, or cannabis, is provided to patients. We wanted to know what it's like inside one of these dispensaries, so we went to one in Los Angeles, where as you'll see, there are many options to choose from, ranging from pot- laced brownies and cookies to even chocolate drinks. Here's what I found out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Joanna Laforce has been a pharmacist for 30 years, most of that time spent in traditional medicine. But in 2007 she co-founded The Pharmacy, a dispensary that sells marijuana as a medical treatment.

LAFORCE: All of the people are here for medical reasons. And we're very careful how we verify our patients. They need a California I.D. or a driver's license and their doctor's recommendation.

COOPER: More than 600 medical marijuana dispensaries like The Pharmacy have opened around Los Angeles since the state law was enacted in 2003 legalizing the service. Under the Bush administration, they were constant targets of raids by the federal government. Just recently, President Obama vowed to end those raids. Just like in a restaurant, Laforce and her staff will show clients a menu of the many varieties of cannabis for sale, used to treat different systems.

(on camera) So, there's like Bubba Joe, Mendo Purple, Princess Third Eye, Air Force Once.

LAFORCE: Exactly. And when people are familiar with these varieties or the names, they have a feeling for what -- how it's going to work for them.

COOPER (voice-over): But despite all the different varieties available at her store, Laforce says all of them fall into one of two basic types: sativa and indica.

LAFORCE: The sativa usually has a higher percentage of THC. It's more of a stimulating, which works really well for depression. It's excellent for stimulating appetite, so -- and for other type of psychological ailments. As opposed to indica, which is a more sedating, more kind of full body, really good for inflammation and arthritis, neurological types of diseases.

COOPER: And for customers who feel uneasy about lighting up and smoking marijuana, Laforce has products for them, too.

(on camera) This pharmacy has introduced a line of what they call edibles, lollipops. These are lollipops that have cannabis in them. These are brownies and cookies, biscotti, chocolates and chocolate bars.

This pharmacy has even introduced their own line of drinks. This is mint green tea, enhanced green tea. So there's cannabis inside of this. This could basically have the same impact as smoking some cannabis.

No doubt, a fair number of people who are watching this are going to say, "Look, this is basically just kind of a fancy way of getting people stoned."

LAFORCE: Every day we have people come in with that same attitude and very skeptical. The more people are exposed to it and more people who have family members or friends that have benefited from cannabis, the more the idea of exactly what we're doing really is changing.

COOPER (voice-over): That change hasn't come without a fight. Despite recent signs, the Obama administration might be more hands off when it comes to medical marijuana. Until federal law changes, the fight is far from over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And everyone on the crew here is wondering. No, you're not allowed to sample the products.

Coming up next, a video you'll have to see to believe. Caught on tape: a cop pulls over ambulance, an ambulance that is bringing someone to the hospital. So why did the trooper do this? And we'll show you what happened next.

Also, the latest in the feud between Sarah Palin and David Letterman. Tonight, the funnyman is no longer making jokes aimed at Alaska's governor. We'll hear his apologizes tonight.

And the latest on tonight's breaking news: unrest over Iran's elections; a massive rally in the streets of Tehran. President Obama weighing in. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Chicago today, President Obama did his best to win over a group he'd love to have on his side in the health-care debate, the American Medical Association. Fifteen years ago the AMA opposed Clinton health care reforms. In today's 15-minute speech, Mr. Obama laid out his proposals. Not all of his remarks drew applause, of course. This line did get a couple of laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Newt Gingrich has rightly pointed out -- and I don't quote Newt Gingrich that often -- we do a better job tracking a FedEx package in this country than we do tracking patients' health records.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, today's speech was an important sales pitch for President Obama. Tom Foreman tonight has all the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nation's health-care system is in critical condition. That has been the battle cry for some in Washington for decades. And with 46 million people uninsured, the president says action can wait no longer.

OBAMA: It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.

FOREMAN: As evidence of a tipping point he notes within a decade Americans could be spending one in every five consumer dollars on health care. Two-thirds of small businesses, he says, have either dropped coverage or reduced benefits since the early 1990s.

And we are collectively playing $1,000 in extra taxes and higher insurance rates every time an uninsured person goes to an emergency room.

(on camera) The president wants to combat all of that with more electronic record keeping, to cut down on waste. More preventive care, more generic drugs, more efficient spending in programs like Medicare. More of anything that cuts costs and expands services. (voice-over) But hold on, opponents say. They have their own numbers, their own fears. Among them: creating low-cost government insurance might push more employers to quit offering insurance, forcing more workers into government-run health care.

More government involvement might mean more rules about who gets treatment, when and where. And reform could be wildly expensive in its own right: a $1 trillion over the next ten years. The president says the savings will offset the cost and the other fears are overblown.

So the AMA says...

DR. NANCY NIELSEN, AMA PRESIDENT: We are very much encouraging not only our members but the public to not look at labels, not let fear-mongering, not let rhetoric get in the way of what a plan is that we haven't seen fleshed out yet.

FOREMAN: That's not an endorsement, but in the numbers game of health-care reform, it is one step for the president toward the bargaining table.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're following a number of other stories now, of course. Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with a "360 Follow." A family friend says a tumor in a 13-year-old Minnesota boy has shrunk significantly following court-ordered chemotherapy. But adds Danny Hauser is miserable due to the side effects. You'll recall Danny and his mother disappeared for a couple of days last month to avoid the treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, but did return.

David Letterman apologizing to Governor Sarah Palin tonight for last week's joke about her daughter being, quote, "knocked up," insisting the joke was aimed at Palin's 18-year-old girl Bristol, but Palin had been to the Yankees game with her 14-year-old, Willow.

Letterman clarified his remarks tonight by saying, "I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who is outraged by the joke."

And I should say we have reached out to the governor's office but have not yet heard back as to whether or not she has responded to that.

In Oklahoma, a state trooper gets into a shouting match with a paramedic he pulled over for a traffic violation while rushing to a hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give you a ticket for failure to yield. And when I go by you, son, what's going on, you don't need to give me no hand gestures now. I ain't going to put up with that (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You understand me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I won't put up with you talking to my driver like that, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't listening to you, buddy. You get your (expletive deleted) back in that ambulance or I'll take you in. I'm talking to the driver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take me in if you would. We've got a patient in this unit right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Well, the trooper says he did nothing wrong, noting the emergency lights and sirens on the ambulance were not on at the time. The D.A. decided not to press charges in the case. And Anderson, apparently, the man who was in that ambulance, who was on his way for treatment was treated and released.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Still ahead, Erica, their chorus teacher knew they were special. Now millions of strangers know it, as well. How a group of New York fifth graders became an Internet sensation. That's tonight's "Shot" when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture that we put on our blog every day.

So tonight's picture: worker puts some finishing work on a sculpture of President Obama's head, part of a 20-foot-tall bust that will eventually be displayed at the Presidents Park in South Dakota.

Staff winner tonight is Joey. His caption -- Joey Gardner (ph): "I think we can fit him between Lincoln and Roosevelt."

(SOUND EFFECT: "Oooh!")

HILL: Nice.

COOPER: All right. The viewer winner is Patty from Palmdale, California. Her caption: "Whew, I wish he had his hair cut like Ali Velshi."

HILL: Nice. Bring in the Velshi man.

COOPER: V-Money, I believe.

HILL: He is V-Money. Yes. For those in the know.

COOPER: Patty, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.

Erica, tonight's "Shot," a group of New York kids singing their way into the hearts of millions around the world. They were fifth graders at P.S. 22 in Staten Island who, with the help of a chorus teacher, Brett Brineberg (ph), they've become an Internet sensation.

Here's one of their hits, "Eye of the Tiger." Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: I love it.

COOPER: That YouTube clip...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That YouTube clip has been watched more than half a million times. Jared Fulness (ph) is the guy who sang the solo. He's the one who suggested the chorus sing "Eye of the Tiger."

HILL: Excellent taste for such a young man.

COOPER: That's right. And Erica, as you well know, that song was made famous by Survivor back in the early '80s.

HILL: Oh, yes.

COOPER: Early '80s.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Is that Survivor? Didn't Frank Stallone also do something? Or is that...

HILL: It was Survivor.

COOPER: It was part of the album for "Rocky 3." Right?

But didn't Frank Stallone sing it? Frank Stallone once sing one of the "Rocky" songs?

HILL: Anderson, I think you could give John Roberts a run for his money as a V.J.

COOPER: The band is live. By the way, you can catch Survivor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on June 25.

HILL: Really? Staff field trip.

COOPER: Yes. As the amazing boys and girls of P.S. 22 and their teacher are invited any time to come to 360 and perform for us.

Erica Hill rocking out. Can we have that picture of Erica back in the day? Do we have that?

HILL: I'm sure you'll find it for tomorrow. Don't worry.

COOPER: You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site at AC360.com.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the serious stuff, the news from Iran keeping evolving. We've got breaking developments. The latest from Tehran. A new day there has dawned. President Obama weighing in for the first time. The last couple hours and people around the region and the world wondering what is going to happen next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: President Obama weighing in on Iran. That as the whole world watches. A sea of people marching, and at least one person dying to overturn an election and perhaps overthrow the hard-line government.