John Oliver Sets His Sights On Federal Marijuana Laws
Last Week April 2, 2017, show tackled the inexplicable Federal Marijuana laws still in the books despite public opinion. Federal Marijuana laws are known to be ludicrous but John Oliver – in one of his excellent informative segments – broke down the reasons why these laws are so ludicrous.
Public Opinion Favors Legalization
Last Week Tonight’s segment starts by highlighting the turning tide in public opinion regarding Marijuana laws. Per the Gallup poll referenced in the segment, in 1969 12% of American Citizens favored legalizing Marijuana. By 2016 that number has climbed to 60%.
The Facts About Marijuana are Getting Through
This increase of Marijuana legalization support has come from battling the disinformation spread by Anti-Marijuana lobbying groups. Also, the realization that the only thing ruining lives of Marijuana smokers is the government’s overreaching laws and harsh punishments.
Nixon was a Bad Hombre
John Oliver goes on to explain that Marijuana was legal until Nixon used Marijuana to target groups he did not like. Oliver then rolls a clip of Nixon going on an Anti-Semitic rant claiming Jews are mostly behind favorable view of the legalization of Marijuana. Nixon targeted certain drugs in the War on Drugs, not for the benefit of the community but the targeting of individuals.
The Scheduling Conflict
This resulted in Marijuana being labeled a schedule one drug along with Heroin as pointed out by John Oliver. Schedule one means the drug has no medicinal benefit and has a high potential for abuse.
Schedule two drugs are drugs that also have a high potential for abuse. but aren’t as dangerous as schedule one drugs. Two well-known drugs on this list, Cocaine, and Methamphetamines, are considered less dangerous than Marijuana; crazy, right?
More Money More Problems
The Last Week Tonight segment then brings up the difficulties of money management that state-legal Marijuana businesses deal with. We covered that very subject here. The tl;dr version is Marijuana businesses can’t use traditional banks so they have to resort to handling large sums of cash.
Marijuana Businesses Have It Hard
John Oliver then hilariously highlights the absurd tax rules that state if you have received money illegally you should still declare it. Also, Marijuana businesses don’t qualify for any tax breaks given to most small businesses.
Real People are Affected
One thing Oliver does well is put a face to the issues he is covering. This segment was no different. John Oliver rolled a clip from CNBC’s American Greed series featuring a Medical Marijuana recipient who was fired for using his treatment. John wanted to display how Federal laws affect people who are not criminals or drug abusers.
Government Sanctioned Kidnapping
To drive home the effect of Federal Marijuana laws John Oliver follows that clip with another from Fox 47 News in Michigan that showed a government sanctioned kidnapping. The parents were growing Marijuana on their property for medical purposes.
The father in the family suffered from Epilepsy and the Marijuana was prescribed to reduce the effects of the disease. Child Protection Services claimed the plants raised the possibility of robbery, therefore, endangering the baby. If you’re a small government advocate your blood should be boiling right now.
I Thought We Cared About Our Veterans?
Veterans have also expressed support for Medical Marijuana for dealing with the effects of PTSD. In a clip shown on Last Week Tonight, we see a Veteran who gives an emotional testimony about his experiences with Medical Marijuana. Last Week Tonight excels at finding the right footage to drive home its points.
The Government Makes It Hard to Study Marijuana
Another point covered in John Oliver’s piece on Federal Marijuana Laws is the difficulty in studying the legitimacy of Marijuana being used medicinally. Because of its status as a schedule one drug. Anyone who wants to study it must jump through several government hoops.
The Government Makes It Hard to Get Marijuana Treatment
These government hoops are what make it hard for Veterans to get access to Medicinal Marijuana from the VA or private doctors. Some states where Medical Marijuana has become legalized, lawmakers are purposely writing the law to make it difficult for Marijuana businesses or users to navigate.
Obama Did Something but Not Enough
John Oliver points out former President Obama’s stance on Marijuana and guidelines he put in place to make it easier for Marijuana businesses to operate.
We Have a New Attorney General in Town
However, as Oliver points out, we have a new Attorney General whose ideas of Marijuana are beyond ignorant; they’re repulsive if you think about the millions of lives our government has ruined since Nixon’s second biggest betrayal of the American people, the war on drugs.
We Have Some Allies in Congress
We do have politicians on a Federal level that are introducing legislation to remove Marijuana from schedule one classification per John Oliver. This group of politicians, known as the Cannabis Caucus, consists of Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenaur, Don Young, and Jared Polis. This bipartisan committee reflects the growing tide of Marijuana legalization.
Last Week Tonight: The Daily Show’s True Successor
John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segments are packed with information and reminds me of John Stewart’s days at The Daily Show. John Oliver does a great job of capturing our outrage over the stupid things our government does; he then stabs holes in the government’s pseudo-logic with piercing humor and facts.