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Bill Maher: 'It seems fair racial minorities jump the line for weed franchises'

Bill Maher

“The drug war has been a horrendous instrument of prejudice and punishment for racial minorities.”

Long-time talk show host and cannabis retail partner Bill Maher told his Real Time with Bill Maher audience last week that he gets why some people think those affected by the War on Drug should have first dibs on weed retail licences.

Maher made the comments during the “New Rule” segment on Friday, which focused on how key it is to have a lawyer who fights for client wants and needs.

To illustrate the value of such representation, he kicked off the segment with the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp defamation trial example before segueing into why he believes Democrats are losing ground to Republicans, including citing the flip of a Texas district from blue to red, the Latinx term and student loan relief.

During the segment, Maher, 66, noted that Bernie Sanders (at about 4:42 in clip below) promised during his 2020 run to become the Democratic nominee for president that he would legalize cannabis on his first day as president. Beyond that, the idea would be to have those who suffered most from the drug war be first up to receive retail licences.

“And you know what? I can’t argue with that instinct. The drug war has been a horrendous instrument of prejudice and punishment for racial minorities, so it seems fair that they jump the line for weed franchises the way Indians (Native Americans) did for casinos,” Maher told his studio audience.

Despite his support, the host argued that the approach is “also what’s holding up Republican support for legalizing cannabis nationally,” which he contends “would be good for everybody.”

With regards to legalized cannabis, Sanders’ official website noted that it would be done in the first 100 days with executive action.

Additionally, the prospective nominee noted his government would vacate and expunge all past marijuana-related convictions and ensure that revenue from legal cannabis is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.

Though Sanders did not win the Democratic nomination back in 2020, the 16-year senator’s take on marijuana seems pretty much the same today.

“Marijuana should be legal nationwide. All marijuana convictions must be expunged. It is absurd that the federal government considers marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin,” he  tweeted in April.

About three weeks ago, Maher again cautioned on his HBO show that Democrats could lose the cannabis legalization issue to Republicans, something he maintained could help energize long-time or could-be Democrats to vote.

“Republicans are going to steal the issue, I think, eventually,” adding the narrative could be to make legalization “one of those freedom issues,” the host told guest Eric Holder, who served as the U.S. Attorney General from 2009 to 2015 in the Barack Obama administration.

Asked if he would hold out for equity or get proposed legislation on cannabis passed, Holder responded:

“It’s better to have the law changed. And as I said, deal with the societal reality that we have and, you know, try to make it as equitable as you possibly can.”

An SSRS poll released in April found that 69 per cent of respondents believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use.

During the show last week, Maher said Democrats must make some hard practical choices.

“Redress the past or reach out to the gettable white voter who says, you know what? I’d like a shot at getting in the pot business. But to do that, I’m going to need a good lawyer who fights for me.”

Maher, whose partners include actor Woody Harrelson and ERBA founders Devon Wheeler and Jay Handal, recently opened The Woods in Hollywood. The business has both a dispensary and a freestanding neighbourhood bar complete with a Zen-like backyard garden and koi pond.

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