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Talk show host and pot lover Bill Maher worries Republicans will ‘steal’ cannabis legalization issue

Jun 6, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
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Republicans could make weed “one of those freedom issues”

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Talk show host Bill Maher cautioned that Democrats could lose the cannabis legalization issue to Republicans, a topic that could energize voters and help turn the electoral map blue, if they don’t get their acts together.

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During an edition of Overtime, the longtime host of Real Time with Bill Maher argued that “Republicans are going to steal the issue, I think, eventually,” adding the narrative could be to make legalization “one of those freedom issues. And, of course, Republicans smoke lots of pot, too.”

“Not enough,” quipped guest Eric Holder, who served as the U.S. Attorney General from 2009 to 2015. “They need to mellow out just a little more,” Holder suggested.

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Maher, 66, chimed in, though, that the deal-breaker for Republicans appears to be equity proposals included in the legalization bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives.

“What do you want? Half a loaf if they said, ‘Okay, no equity.’ Is it better to have the law passed or changed, or is it better to hold out for equity?” he asked Holder.

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

Maher’s argument about Republicans stealing the weed issue was much the same as the one he made on 4/20 back in 2018, a half-year before the midterm elections, which traditionally see Democratic voter turnout dip.

“Democrats must get a good wedge issue to make sure they win the next election and I have one in mind. Hint: today is 4/20,” Maher said at the time.

“Hey, Democrats. You’re going to lose this issue if you’re not careful because now Republicans smell the money,” he contended. “Democrats need this issue.”

Maher pointed out that former Republican politician John Boehner, who was previously “unalterably” opposed to decriminalizing any Schedule 1 drug, including cannabis, had just weeks prior been named to the Board of Directors of Acreage Holdings Inc.

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We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

It was announced that both Boehner and fellow Republican, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, had joined as directors for one of the U.S.’s largest, multi-state cannabis corporations.

“Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld will bring an immense, collective and unique set of experiences in government affairs, unmatched leadership and guidance to help drive Acreage towards its strategic mission,” the company noted at the time.

This past May, Acreage reported that its consolidated revenue for the first quarter of the year was US$56.9 million, up 48 per cent year-over-year, while its gross profit climbed 43 per cent to about US$29.5 million. That said, net loss was also up to US$13.9 million for Q1 2022 compared to the same quarter of 2021.

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Arguing in 2018 that the anticipated “blue wave” for the midterms was hardly in the bag, “what we need is a sweetener to rouse the Liberal base and I think pot would do the trick,” Maher suggested.

“Yes, we love weed the way Republicans love their guns. Every election, Republicans run on, ‘They’re coming for your guns.’ We need to talk about weed that way and turn potheads into single-issue voters, too,” he emphasized.

A headline from U.S. News in May 2022, however, blared that midterm math this year works against the Democrats.

Republicans honing in on the traditionally Democratic issue may come down to the public’s growing support for legalizing cannabis.

An SSRS poll released in April found that 69 per cent of respondents believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use. /
An SSRS poll released in April found that 69 per cent of respondents believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use. / Photo by / Photo: TheaDesign / iStock / Getty Images Plus

An SSRS poll released in April found that 69 per cent of respondents believe cannabis should be legalized for recreational use. That is one percentage point higher than the support noted in a Gallup poll from 2021.

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But a survey from YouGov and The Economist from earlier this year indicated that voters are none-too-pleased with the job President Joe Biden has done so far on the cannabis file.

Asked about how he has advanced his campaign promise to decriminalize cannabis, just seven per cent of those polled reported that he had done “a lot,” 16 per cent responded “some,” 15 per cent indicated “only a little,” 39 per cent suggested “none” and 23 per cent were “not sure.”

During the most recent discussion with Maher, Holder was asked why President Biden isn’t pushing for the federal legalization of cannabis.

“I think it’s probably something we ought to do given the fact that it is something that would have a great political benefit, and also deals with the reality. People are using marijuana,” he said.

“Our drug policy needs to catch up with what the reality is. Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug. It’s ridiculous,” he added.

According to Fox News, only three GOP lawmakers voted in favour of a bill this spring to legalize cannabis countrywide and only two Democrats voted in opposition.

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