John Oliver Breaks Down Cannabis Legalization and Calls the War on Drugs "Futile"




On Sunday, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired on HBO. Every week Oliver goes in-depth about a specific issue the US is currently battling and this one was a major informative piece regarding the history of marijuana in the United States and the current frustrations within the cannabis industry. 

"The legality of marijuana is actually much more fraught than you think. In fact, if you have marijuana right now, even if you are acting completely legally according to your state, you may still be in serious jeopardy. You could lose your home, job, or possessions." said Oliver. This is a very important point to bring up because although your state may have legalized marijuana, it is still illegal on the federal level. This is partly thanks to Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 and it's still in effect today. This act classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which places it in the ranks of heroin and more dangerous than schedule II drugs: methamphetamine and cocaine.

Since the Controlled Substances Act is a federal level act, it has come into many clashes with the legal marijuana industry on the state level. Even though the state legalized marijuana, it will always still be recognized as a Schedule I drug by the federal level. This conflict causes many restraints on legal businesses within the cannabis industry. For example, cannabis businesses have struggled to get bank accounts because at the federal level they are seen as criminal enterprises and banks that would accept their money could technically be involved in money laundering. 

Oliver brings up several other intriguing and poignant facts that need to be heard, including interviewing a veteran by the name of Danny Belcher that suffers from PTSD and how through the use of cannabis Belcher was able to overcome flashbacks and nightmares of the Vietnam war. Oliver easily shut down the "marijuana is a gateway drug" by simply stating that "For all the talk you hear of marijuana being a gateway drug, for [Belcher], that gateway led to peaceful sleep, rigorous exercise and community service." 

Oliver's piece was a great way to vocalize the problems with legalization. Clearly, progress needs to be made and hopefully by spreading this message, we can help change for the better.