Drew Carey defends medical marijuana in new online video

October 31, 2007

Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—Bob Barker famously closed each episode of "The Price Is Right" with a pitch to spay and neuter pets. His successor is taking a stand on a more controversial subject: marijuana.

Drew Carey won't tout toking up on "Price," but he defends the use of medical marijuana in a video posted online Thursday on Reason.tv.

"Smell that smell," the 49-year-old comedian says as he walks into a Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary. "That's the smell of freedom."

The video is one of 20 Carey will host for the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit educational group whose ideas "some people call Libertarian" and whose mission is to "advance freedom," said president David Nott.

Carey offered to produce brief documentaries on topics ranging from traffic congestion to immigration for the foundation's Web site, Nott said.

"Drew Carey connects with regular people ... He has a regular guy's look at things and that's why this seems like a great thing," he said. "We're interested in freedom across the spectrum, and good journalism about these subjects is important in the world of ideas."

It's Carey's everyman appeal that likely helped him land the coveted job as host of "The Price Is Right." But executives from CBS and Fremantle Media, which produces "Price," had no comment Thursday about Carey's extracurricular work.

Carey also declined comment Thursday, but he's not shy about his position on medical marijuana.

"I think it's clear by now that the federal government needs to reclassify marijuana," Carey says in the video. "People who need it should be able to get it—safely and easily."

Though medical marijuana might be controversial, media experts and fans of "The Price Is Right" said Carey's political punditry will have little if any effect on the stalwart show or the comedian's career.

"Twenty years ago, this would have been career suicide," said longtime celebrity publicist Michael Levine. "But in the early part of the 21st century, a guy like Drew Carey can come out with his position and it will not injure him."

Shawn Wells, a 32-year-old office worker from Taylorville, Ill. and longtime "Price" fan, said Carey's political self-expression is "not going to impact me whatsoever."

"In this day and age, where everything is electronic, everybody knows everything about everyone," he said. "Twenty years ago, Drew Carey could have had the same views and nobody would have known or thought anything of it."

Older "Price" viewers could be turned off by Carey's politics, Wells said, "but I don't think it will make a huge difference."

Since Carey is so new to "Price," he's taking a risk speaking out on such a controversial topic, said Bonnie Diczhazy, who runs a "Price Is Right" fan site. People naturally connect him with the show, said Diczhazy, a -38-year-old artist from Cleveland.

But his outspokenness could also earn him new fans.

"The younger generation could learn something," she said, adding that the medical-marijuana video "doesn't affect whether or not I watch the show at all."

"'Price Is Right' is an icon in and of itself," she said. "I don't think (Carey's videos) would stop people from watching."

Carey's mini-documentaries will appear every two weeks through the end of the year on Reason.tv, Nott said. Future topics include eminent domain, school choice and immigration.

Meanwhile, "The Price Is Right" host will continue to close daily episodes with Barker's traditional spay-and-neuter refrain.


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