John Oliver is mad about the confusing, contradictory mess of marijuana laws in the United States, and he’s not going to take it anymore, Greg.
(Trust me. Once you watch the segment, that’ll make sense.)
Oliver took a long look at cannabis laws Sunday night during his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” pulling apart the Catch-22s that await even those who do their best to comply with the law while attempting to gain some relief from medical marijuana.
Noting that after the 2016 elections, 44 states had some sort of medical marijuana law on the books, Oliver walked viewers through how federal laws criminalizing cannabis could make life hard for patients, starting with prohibition near the beginning of the 20th century.
The War on Drugs, Oliver pointed out, has been an expensive failure — one with strongly racial overtones that have devastated African American communities. “Last Week Tonight” even dug up an old Oval Office recording of President Richard Nixon rambling about how marijuana legalization advocates were mostly Jewish, speculating that “it’s because most of them are psychiatrists,” and winding up by declaring that “we are going to hit the marijuana thing … right square in the puss.”
Boy, it’s weird to hear the president say something like that, isn’t it?
Anyway, Oliver lays out his case methodically and hilariously, sharing the story of a marijuana business that has to pay its taxes with huge bundles of cash because federal laws prevent them from using banks — but the feds still expect those tax payments, even if they think the business itself is illegal. The show also tells the stories of:
- A man paralyzed by a car accident who was fired from his job despite having a prescription for medical marijuana in a state where it was legal;
- A father who used marijuana to treat seizures, only to have their local child welfare department take away their child, saying that the family’s medical marijuana plants made them a target for armed robberies; and
- A veteran who used marijuana to alleviate his crippling PTSD but confesses that he’s still “acting like a criminal” because a contradiction between Kentucky law and federal law means that although the state wants to legalize medical marijuana, it still requires a prescription, which is illegal under federal law.
Oliver winds up by reviewing the tiny steps the Obama administration made toward decriminalizing marijuana, and the bellicose threats already issued by President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
Check out the whole segment: