WATCH: John Oliver hits outdated federal marijuana laws, which turn legal weed dealers into "criminal enterprises"

According to federal law, even when marijuana is legal, it's actually still illegal, Oliver notes

By Charlie May
April 3, 2017 4:37PM (UTC)
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(YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

Over the last few decades, the use of marijuana — both medically and recreationally — has become increasingly embraced by society. However, despite the rising acceptance, there are many federal laws laws in place that directly conflict with new state-level laws surrounding the drug. For example, marijuana is still currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the highest classification possible. This makes it considered equally as harmful as the other narcotics it sits with, like heroin and LSD. To add more context, substances such as methamphetamine and cocaine are considered less severe, at Schedule 2.

On Sunday night's "Last Week Tonight" John Oliver broke down the unique ways the lives of law abiding citizens — in states where marijuana is either medically or recreationally legal — are devastatingly impacted.


"Legal marijuana businesses have struggled to get bank accounts because at the federal level they are still seen as criminal enterprises, so if banks took their deposits, that could be considered money laundering. This has meant that the businesses have had to operate all-cash," Oliver explained.

The late-night comedian pointed out how under federal tax law, income must be declared, even if that source is illegal.

"You can't deduct certain expenses, and that could mean that you pay double the amount of tax that you would if you were selling any other product," Oliver said.


Oliver highlights the different ways in which even those who are abiding by state law, are sometimes still caught in the dragnet of draconian federal laws.

"And even if you are only dealing with your government at the state level, decades of enforcing anti-drug laws can result in local officials making big mistakes. As two Michigan parents — one of whom treated his epileptic seizures with marijuana — discovered in 2013," Oliver told his viewers.

The late-night comedian then showed a clip of the two parents who had their 6-month-old child taken from them. Despite the marijuana users home being state-sanctioned, their home was deemed too dangerous.


"It would place our residents at a higher rate of armed robbery and therefore was an imminent danger for my child to be removed," Maria Green shared.

The host of "Last Week Tonight" pleaded how imperative it is that federal laws are brought up to date, and to even take measures such as expunging the records of low level nonviolent drug offenders.

Charlie May

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