Political commentator Bill Maher argued Republicans could easily ‘steal’ the issue of federal marijuana legalization by making it an issue about freedom after Democrats inserted ‘too much stuff’ about racial ‘equity’ in the House-passed measure aimed to decriminalize pot.
Maher, 66, who often draws the ire of both liberals and conservatives on his long-running HBO show Real Time, argued Friday night that the legalization of marijuana swings in the favor of Republicans and is ‘something we ought to do.’
‘Republicans are gonna steal the issue. I think eventually, ‘Maher told former Attorney General Eric Holder after being asked why President Joe Biden hadn’t yet pushed for federal legalization of the pot. ‘I mean, it could be one of those freedom issues.’
He also noted how Republicans opposed the marijuana legislation passed by the House in April because of its language surrounding racial equity.
‘Now I understand the impetus to want to, like, for example, if you’re gonna have new businesses that are legal in the marijuana field, yeah, they should probably go to the people who suffered the most during the drug war,’ Maher said. ‘Republicans, of course, are saying this is a deal-breaker.’
Bill Maher argued Republicans could easily ‘steal’ the issue of federal marijuana legalization by making it an issue about freedom after Democrats inserted ‘too much stuff’ about racial ‘equity’ in the House-passed measure aimed to decriminalize pot
Maher alleged that although Republicans may support legalizing pot, they’re not going to endorse legislation riddled with racial undertones.
‘What do you want, half a loaf? If they said okay, no equity, is it better to have the law passed or changed or is it better to hold out for equity ?, ‘he questioned.
‘It’s better to have the law changed,’ Holder answered. ‘Deal with the societal reality that we have and, you know, and try to make it as equitable as you possibly can, but I wouldn’t want to stop the movement that I think makes sense for the sake of equity.’
Maher also joked the GOP could get on board with the federal legalization of marijuana because some Republicans are directly tied to the business, such as former House Speaker John Boehner who is currently on the board of the cannabis company Acreage Holdings.
‘I mean, someone like John Boehner works for a marijuana company now,’ Maher argued. ‘And, of course, Republicans smoke lots of pot too.’
Holder replied: ‘Not enough. They need to mellow out just a little more. ‘
Boehner joined the Acreage Holdings board in 2018 and later became the chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable, a pro-marijuana lobbying group.
Similarly, a 2021 Quinnipiac University poll revealed that 62 percent of Republicans surveyed supported legalization of marijuana. Seventy-eight percent of participants who were identified as Democrats also supported the measure.
Regardless, only three GOP lawmakers – Florida Reps. Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast and Tom McClintock, of California – voted in favor of April’s bill to legalize marijuana nationwide.
Maher (left) told former Attorney General Eric Holder (right) the GOP could get on board with the federal legalization of marijuana because some party members are directly tied to the business and because ‘Republicans smoke lots of pot too.’ Holder replied: ‘Not enough. They need to mellow out just a little more ‘
Maher pointed out how former House Speaker John Boehner (pictured in March 2016, mowing his lawn during retirement) ‘works for a marijuana company now’. Boehner also became the chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable, a pro-marijuana lobbying group
The House passed the bill to federally legalize marijuana on April 1 with a vote of 220-204, mostly along party lines, sending the legislation to the Senate.
It marked the second time the Democrat-led House passed a bill to decriminalize pot, the first happening in December 2020.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (HR 3617) decriminalizes possession, distribution and manufacture of cannabis – and no longer classifies it as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
However, Republicans alleged the bill was half-baked and failed to address the ‘clear consequences’ of legalizing marijuana.
While the Senate has not yet voted on HR 3617, The Hill reported last month that momentum is growing in the Senate for another piece of cannabis legislation.
The newspaper argued that bipartisan lawmakers are pushing to have key marijuana banking legislation tucked into the proposed SAFE Banking Act, which intends to strengthen the country’s supply chains and manufacturing.
The House passed the bill to federally legalize marijuana on April 1 with a vote of 220-204, mostly along party lines, sending the legislation to the Senate
However, Republicans alleged the bill was half-baked and failed to address the ‘clear consequences’ of legalizing marijuana
A map of the United States showing the legality of marijuana by state
If the marijuana component is included in the legislation, the SAFE Banking Act would enable cannabis firms to use banking services.
‘This is a cash-only business right now. It’s dangerous for the employees, ‘Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Told The Hill on May 4. ‘It’s dangerous for the patrons, and it can be fixed.’
‘We’ve got nine Republican co-sponsors officially on it, close to 50 Democrats,’ bill co-sponsor Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) Said. ‘There are some other Republicans that I’m confident, if we had a vote, would vote for it. So, we’ve got the votes to pass the SAFE Banking Act as a standalone, if we’d like to. ‘
Other Republicans have argued the bill is an essential step for changing the current system which encourages crime and ‘prevents proper tracking of billions of dollars’ in marijuana sales.
However, there is speculation that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Will likely block ‘marijuana banking’ from being included in the measure.