The 'Last Week Tonight' host had a lot to say about federal marijuana law.
For those of us in Washington and Colorado, the weed leaders in the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana use, John Oliver’s rather serious 12-minute monologue on the disparities between state and federal laws was somewhat old school.
On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver explained that while 44 states allow medical marijuana and eight states have now legalized weed for recreational use, federal law remains unchanged.
In a 1970 law, the United States classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, purportedly more dangerous than methamphetamines (which according to that same classification system are considered Schedule 2 drugs) and established penalties for its use.
The discrepancy between the state and federal laws meant that marijuana users could be law-abiding in terms of what their state dictates and yet still be in violation of federal law.
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After Washington passed its marijuana laws in 2012, state and federal law-enforcement officers held a series of meetings in an attempt to develop a message for state residents about how federal officials planned to act.
In an historic policy shift, the Department of Justice in 2013 announced that it would not intervene in the laws legalizing recreational marijuana use in Washington and Colorado.
The department also indicated it would defer to local law enforcement, but step in if states did not adopt effective and strict regulatory schemes.
That mostly peaceful approach is now threatened by news from the Trump administration that federal prosecutors may soon begin to crack down on marijuana use.
Interesting, Oliver, interesting indeed. But not funny at all.