Bill Maher took on marijuana legalization on his HBO show Real Time, and he offered some sobering advice to those who think that the end of the national prohibition on weed is close to a “done deal.”
Maher starts his monologue by pointing out that while abortion is legal, some states have made it incredibly difficult to get one. After that he points out that in 2013 there were over 700 medical marijuana dispensaries. He says that since that time, over 500 of them have been shut down. His point to the pro-weed crowd is that you can’t just sit around and wait for things like legalization to happen — you have to be part of the change.
Maher chides President Obama a bit, taking on his comment that smoking marijuana is not much different from smoking cigarettes and that it’s no more dangerous than alcohol, but that it’s a bad habit. Maher observes that unlike cigarettes, weed is not linked to lung cancer, and in fact it has been found to be far less dangerous than alcohol. He gives the president credit for “trying to move the needle,” but then asks “this is what passes as ‘supportive?'”
Maher notes that marijuana legalization is not like gay marriage, because nobody stood to lose money with the legalization of same-sex marriage. The war on drugs, he observes, is worth billions to the DEA, police and for profit prisons. Given its effectiveness as a painkiller, drug companies would also be among the losers from legalization. It’s like everything else in America. If you want to know why something is or isn’t being done, take a look at who profits from that thing, or its prohibition.
As he wraps up the monologue, Maher says that marijuana legalization needs to be handled at the federal level to eliminate the hodge-podge of different laws that exist now from state to state. Then he nails the popular Republican rallying cry of “states rights!” with this observation:
We can’t leave this to the states, because ‘states rights’ is always code for ‘taking away rights.’
He says that he can’t think of another example of a drug that is legal in one state, but not in another. Then he does something that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago — he pulls out a joint, lights it, and takes a hit.
It’s not likely that Maher will help the cause of marijuana legalization in any political way. After all, among Republicans he’s probably the second most hated man in the country who is not named Barack Obama. (Michael Moore is number one.) But he said what needed to be said not just by comedians, but by politicians. By lighting up on camera he issued a challenge to marijuana activists: if you want legal weed, put down the damned Doritos and do something about it.
Here’s the segment, from HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture