One of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of marijuana law reform activists is the constant barrage of information that can be delivered via the media. While the vast majority of this is done on the Internet, traditional media outlets are devoting more time to the issue of cannabis legalization. Sunday night, the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver, took aim at federal marijuana laws in the United States for almost 17 minutes.
Through a combination of logic, information and humor, Oliver dismantled the way cannabis users are treated by the federal government and showed a myriad of ways that laws that make some forms of cannabis use legal are often thwarted and overridden by federal statutes. Even medical marijuana access, which everyone seems to agree should be available to those who need it, is undercut in many states.
Besides being seen by HBO viewers – many of whom may not spend a lot of time on the Internet – Oliver’s segment has gone viral, trending on Youtube and racking up millions of views in a matter of days. Unlike many articles and videos about cannabis law reform, Oliver’s segment is being viewed by enough people to alter perceptions in many areas – and perhaps even get some people to take action.
The vast majority of people who really look at the marijuana issue come to the conclusion that even if they don’t use cannabis or think that others should, the prohibition of marijuana is a failure and states should be left to decide on their own policies. The key is getting information in front of those people in a way they are comfortable with and that is entertaining.
As the segment shows, in many ways there is still a LONG way to go before marijuana legalization is actually a reality. Laws already on the books restrict access and research and make people who are not criminals in some instances, criminals in other instances. On top of that – or under it, depending on how you look at it – legalization laws, especially those pertaining to medical marijuana, add even more regulations, rules and restrictions into a mix that is confusing to begin with.
These are facts that as many as people as possible need to see. Maybe some of them have never thought of the issues surrounding cannabis legalization and after watching the video they will have a better understanding of how millions of people are still being hurt by outdated and destructive policies.