John Oliver On… Marijuana

John Oliver may have opened his show with a few jabs at David Nunes, but the real meat of this week’s episode was the ongoing issue of pot legalization.

The Obama era was one of the most progressive eight year periods in our country’s recent history. Under his administration, marriage was legalized for all. The concept of healthcare as a human right was moved further into the mainstream. Women made greater strides in equality. The “woke” movement arose. The technological advancements helped marginalized voices be heard in ways that hadn’t occurred before.

And the marijuana legalization movement gained real traction for the first time.

But! Unlike some of those other progressive causes, Obama was not into putting his muscle behind the legalization of Marijuana. The racial history that has been part of the drug’s history, including the use of these draconian laws and our prison system as sort of a “third Jim Crow” made it too much of a third rail for him to safely touch. And therefore, we have a really screwed up situation where states–especially out west–are legalizing all over the place, but the federal government stays staunchly anti-drug.

This is about to cause major headaches, especially with the Trump administration signaling (albeit weakly, but still signaling) that they would be partial to these state laws being rolled back.

“If you have marijuana right now, even if you are acting completely legally according to your state, you may still be in serious jeopardy.”

Oliver’s position is the sensible one. With a majority supporting some for of legalization, it’s the federal laws that need to change, not the state ones. Unfortunately, considering that the only things Trump knows how to get done are via executive orders, it seems as if the possibility of that happening the next four years are not great.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs on Sundays on HBO


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