By: Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Coordinator
Tuesday night, on his program “The Last Word,” Lawrence O’Donnell took an impassioned stance against marijuana prohibition while reporting on the recently released Gallup legalization poll.
O’Donnell, who formerly served as Staff Director of the Senate Finance Committee, notes the disconnect between the public opinion on this issue and policy coming from elected officials.
“In a democracy,” he stated, “we should expect such a dramatic shift in public opinion to be reflected in our public officials, but support for marijuana legalization in the United States Senate…has gone from 0% in 1968 to 0% in 2011.”
O’Donnell then rightfully attacked the Obama Administration’s insistence on keeping marijuana a schedule I substance.
“Now we know that no one in the Obama Administration is stupid enough to actually think [marijuana is as dangerous as heroin], but we also know politicians have no intention of facing reality anytime soon when it comes to marijuana. Politicians will continue to allow young lives to be ruined for mere possession of marijuana; politicians will continue to allow people to be arrested. [They will] allow people to go to jail, allow people to be arrested, allow people to get criminal records, get kicked out of school, be turned down for jobs just because they’ve used marijuana, something more than one president has done and gotten away with.”
In the conclusion to his segment, he unabashedly calls out our country’s elected officials for their hypocrisy on the issue, as many of them have no hesitation to indulge in the legal, more dangerous alternative.
“Senators, members of Congress, presidents, vice presidents, and Supreme Court justices are going to continue to get high, many of them every day and every night. Many of them will do it publicly, and loudly, and legally at restaurants and campaign fundraisers and at state dinners,” O’Donnell said, “They will raise their glasses and get high and they will continue to put people in jail for using a harmless, non-liquid way of getting high like marijuana. Such hypocrisy carries an even stronger stench than the alcohol-drenched breath of those politicians and judges and prosecutors and DEA officials. I really don’t know how they can sleep at night…without the booze.”
If more mainstream media journalists begin embracing the issue with the same intensity and comprehension as Lawrence O’Donnell displayed on his program last night, the end of the war on cannabis might be closer than we think.
You can view the segment in its entirety below: