SOURCE: Slate’s Culture Blog
April 3 2017 12:37 PM
BY: Marissa Martinelli
John Oliver returned on Sunday with a segment that’s going to get a lot of people reaching for the air freshener. Though research suggests that marijuana isn’t as dangerous as other drugs—even legal ones like alcohol and tobacco—it’s still considered a Schedule I substance, the most severe classification the federal government can give it. (Cocaine, by comparison, is a Schedule II substance, a step below Mary Jane.) And while 26 states currently have laws that legally allow the use of marijuana in some form, the inconsistencies between states’ laws and federal law, where marijuana is still illegal, make for a tangled legal web—one that Last Week Tonight set about unweaving.
The legal discrepancies surrounding marijuana can have the worst effect on people who use it for medical reasons. Take Brandon Coats, who was paralyzed after a car accident as a teenager and smokes marijuana to control his seizures. After he was fired from his job for failing a drug test—because marijuana is illegal under federal law—Coats was unable to successfully challenge his termination, even though he had been given a license to use the drug for medical reasons by the state of Colorado.
As Oliver points out, “That’s like driving exactly the speed limit and getting pulled over by a cop, who tells you ‘Sorry, the federal speed limit is three, and the legal age to drive is 62, and also you have to be drunk.’ ”
Though the whole situation was still a mess under the Obama administration, at least the president expressed disinterest in cracking down on marijuana use. But new Attorney General Jeff Sessions considers marijuana dangerous and says that “good people” don’t smoke it. And to prove his point, he even quoted a notable scientist and leading expert in the field of addiction and substance-abuse research. Just kidding. He quoted Lady Gaga.
“Lady Gaga also said, ‘I believe that men and women deserve to love each other equally,’ as well as ‘Touch me in the dark, put your hands all over my body parts,’ ” Oliver pointed out. “So please Jeff, if you’re going to live your life according to Gaga quotes, accept the entire canon.”