To celebrate President Obama saying that he does not think marijuana “is more dangerous than alcohol,” Bill Maher invited “Founding Stoner” Willie Nelson to appear on Real Time to discuss the dangers of marijuana.
“It’s plainly less dangerous,” Maher said. “Alcohol abuse… 88,000 deaths a year. Prescription drug overdoses… 16,000 a year. Not one recorded instance of a marijuana overdose. I have living proof here that you cannot overdose on this substance,” he said, referencing the country-western legend.
“A friend of mine had a bale of it fall on him. That’s the only guy…” Nelson said.
“If Obama really believes this, what he said, why is he still raiding dispensaries? Why is it still a Schedule I drug alongside heroin, ecstasy and acid?” Maher asked.
Business Insider‘s Josh Barro agreed that the president should do more than speak out on the silliness of prosecuting marijuana crimes.
The right-leaning journalist suggested that the president could say, “‘I don’t want more raids of marijuana dispensaries, I don’t want the federal government spending resources on marijuana enforcement.’ He would take political flak for that, but I think that it’s a real opportunity for him to show leadership and do something that would have hugely positive impacts all throughout the country.”
Former presidential candidate Howard Dean, also on the panel, said he was recently converted to marijuana legalization after reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which notes how drug arrests at a young age are keeping minorities out of the regular workforce for the rest of their lives.
In the same interview in which he made his comments about marijuana, Obama noted “middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”
Screenshot via Real Time with Bill Maher