Bill Maher on Sen. Tina Smith's Legalization Bill: 'People Like Pot'

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith and "Real Time" host Bill Maher

Bill Maher has a new favorite Congress person: Minnesota Democrtatic Sen. Tina Smith. She famously replaced Al Franken in 2017 and won a special election in 2018. Now Smith wants to legalize marijuana.

On August 3, she introduced the Substance Regulation and Safety Act of 2020 (SRSA), According to her website:

"The bill would remove marijuana from the nation’s list of illegal controlled substances, ensure the same federal oversight of marijuana products as tobacco and alcohol now have and put racially-sensitive safeguards in place to combat cannabis use by people under 21. It would also put in place measures to ensure the safety of marijuana products, require research into how best to combat cannabis-impaired driving and to govern the safe import and export of cannabis products."

About the SRSA, Smith says:

“The federal prohibition on marijuana is a failed policy that contributes to mass incarceration and the racist overpolicing of communities of color. It is time to end that policy. In addition to addressing the harmful and racist legacy of the War on Drugs by passing bills like Senator [Kamala] Harris’ Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, we must address marijuana legalization in a manner that ensures that cannabis and cannabis products are safe, regulated and well-researched.”

On the latest episode of Real Time on HBO, Maher was ecstatic about the bill. "Tina Smith, Senator from Minnesota, is proposing full-on legalization of pot," he noted.

"I just want to say if the Democrats had a brain in their head they would get behind this huge. I’ve said this many times before. This could be your winning issue. It’s a personal issue. People like pot.”

Guest Paul Begala, who worked for President Bill Clinton, weighd in:

"Everybody has their drug of choice. I’ve never smoked weed. I like beer, you like weed, Trump likes hydroxychloroquine... It has been a tool of systemic racism and Joe needs to wake up to this. He’s is a latecomer to this cause."

Begala was referring to the War on Drugs' impact on people of color and likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who's taken a centrist approach to marijuana policy. While two-thirds of Americans favor legalization, Biden prefers decriminalization, which generally ends crimes for possession of an ounce or less but allows the black market to continued unabated.

Maher has a point. Moderate Dems have long shied away from legalization. It's arguable but very possible that Al Gore and Hilary Clinton both would have been elected president had they endorsed legalization.

After Democratic National Committee delegates voted to back marijuana decriminalization rather than legalization in the party platform on July 27, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) voiced her disagreement, telling

"It’s embarrassing. It’s so backwards. This just goes to show why the progressive movement is so important right now, because it defies all logic to me, especially when we’re talking about policing... There's an ideological diversity in the party, and right now, the top of the ticket is in the more conservative part of the party, and that’s the reality.”

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.