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Bill Maher Talks Cannabis With Former AG Eric Holder

The state of marijuana advocacy on the federal level does not exactly make the reasonable individual want to spring eagerly out of bed to check the morning news.

Morning comes especially hard to anyone who sees the advocacy rat-trap coming out of DC for what it is: usually, two groups of grown-ups squeezing the living daylight out of essential issues like marijuana advocacy to score cheap political points.

In this incredibly desperate and low-minded game of musical chairs crossed with own-goal, kick-the-can-down-the-road-football,  the most significant casualties are the groups of hardworking growers and retailers who just want straight answers in the maddening wilderness of double-talk. Straight answers about changing the status of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, for instance. How hard could it be?

Bill Maher Makes A Great Point

Bill Maher, who has carved something of a niche for his show by shining a light on issues that should be common sense by now, broached the subject on his show in a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder.

“Republicans are going to steal the issue, I think, eventually. I mean, someone like John Boehner works for a marijuana company now,” adds Maher. “I mean, it could be one of those freedom issues, and of course, Republicans smoke lots of pot too.”

These are not bipartisan issues, but Maher has a point. As Holder points out, the need to legalize marijuana for the general public is a way to keep up with the rest of the world and  “deal with the reality.”

There is a constant need to signal virtue to the public or at least avoid stirring up hard feelings, which means very little gets accomplished. The progressives aren’t progressing marijuana rights because politics is holding precedence over reality. Meanwhile, the GOP has been hung up on words like “equity” in a recent bill that made it to a house, somehow casting it off as a bad thing.

What’s Holding Us Back?

Holder joked that Republicans don’t smoke enough pot, which is largely accurate, given examples like Tennessee, which effectively killed off a 2022 marijuana legalization bill for their last legislative session. But on the federal level, there is also plenty of opposition to meaningful legalization reform from republicans.

Though we can hardly call this situation a mixed bag, there are a few outliers with the GOP representatives like Nance Mace of South Carolina supporting a bill to legalize marijuana in the House of Representatives. Her act was dead on arrival at the 12 committees where she presented it, but examples like hers show the possibility that a sea-change is building up within the GOP.

Could Maher Be Right?

Could Republicans get marijuana laws away from the dark underbelly of federal control? Chuck Schumer will engage with Republicans to find their position on his federal legalization bill and what they want to be added or redacted. There’s a chance that Republicans will help strike down MORE and other acts like it, especially if they catch wind of what Maher is saying, although we wouldn’t bet on it happening too soon.

There is a consistent but slow tendency toward marijuana legalization from the GOP side. The situation strikes us as a double-edged sword in some ways. On the one hand, we’d have hoped progressives would keep the world “progressing,” but on the other, marijuana legalization shouldn’t come down to partisan politics. We think this bipartisan dynamic has kept back legalization efforts enough already. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a growing divide on the level that issues like socialized healthcare have had every time there’s a sweeping change of administration, so there’s at least some solace in that.

 


 

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