Maher Urges Crowd at NORML Convention to Try and Kill Him


Speaking at the annual NORML Convention at the downtown Crown Plaza Hotel in San Francisco, talk-show celebrity Bill Maher told an appreciative crowd that "the only way marijuana will be legalized is if it becomes a killer like cigarettes, alcohol, or incompetent doctors." Maher's point obviously is that unlike other legal substances, marijuana never killed.

Although Maher was kidding about getting himself killed, he was dead serious on the topic of drug reform. He admonished the crowd to get practical and operate in the real world. "We're in a war," he said, "and it's not like the war on terrorism where you win just by putting a flag on your car." He reminded people that the world has changed and our methods must change with it: " We have to devise tactics to make people benefit or think they benefit from drug reform. We have to put a human face on this campaign. Long gone is the time when people did things because they are right," Maher suggested that votes and money are the only incentives likely to motivate policymakers and elected officials to change the laws.

The overwhelming irrationality of a drug war that targets someone whose only crime is smoking a joint continues to astound many Americans, who disagree with the policy. But according to Maher, they remain a huge, mostly silent majority. Unfortunately, the toll of pot-smoking victims continues to mount. There are currently more than half a million people in American jails because of drug possession, most of them for pot-related offenses. In New york, the Guiliani Administration arrested 50,000 pot smokers annually -- a humongous 2500% increase from the period under the previous Dinkins administration when the annual total was around 2,000.

All that will change if Bill Maher gets his way. The fiesty, whippet-like Maher is perhaps the most visible advocate of drug policy sanity, and pot decriminalization in the U.S. "We suffer from complacency�we ignore and or deny the people who are in jail," he said. "Those half a million (arrested) for drug possession -- if that were a disease it would be an epidemic. And these people aren't even foreigners, they are Americans who are in jail. We should be intolerant of this injustice," Maher railed. "I want to see more anger. We shouldn't have to crawl into alleyways to smoke a joint. It is the triumph of the few and the ignorant. I'm tired of being treated as a criminal and a second class citizen," he said.

Maher offered some strategies for possible success: "We should pursue this as a case of equal protection. I'm not kidding. Equal protection -- there needs to be equal protection with the guy who drinks six scotches ... Maybe we need to call pot a religion -- the Catholics get away with fucking kids and no cop knocked on the door of the rectory, all because it's a religion."

Maher's performance at NORML gave the audience some insights into why his endangered TV show Politically Incorrect is a lightning rod. The Masher hopes Maher will stay on the tube because his voice is truly unique in our political culture.

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