Comedian Zach Galifianakis decided he would make his position on Proposition 19 (the Regulate, Control, and Tax Act of 2010) and the legalization of marijuana in California a YouTube viral sensation. Well, not really, but he had to have known that appearing at a live-taping of a talk show and lighting up a joint would not only make the news but would also have a very high likelihood of going viral. Even if Zach Galifianakis had not starred in “Hangover” and become more famous than a few showings on Comedy Central Network allowed, he most likely would have become famous — or infamous, depending upon one’s perspective — after lighting up and smoking a joint on Bill Maher’s “Real Time.”
After listening to the pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana for a couple minutes, Zach Galifianakis, whose stand-up comedy reflects the a surreal boundary between the erudite and the mundane, said that he understood that it could be a problem to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon of legalization because pot-smoking is still seen as taboo in many circles. And as the rest of Bill Maher’s panel started to converse, Galifianakis reached into his pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a marijuana joint.
The crowd roared its approval. The comedian lit up. Bill Maher, quite surprised, turned, saw the shaggy-haired comic lighting up, laughed and said, “Oh, my god.”
Zach Galifianakis, going for realism, did what most self-respecting cannabis partakers would have done — passed the joint across the desk to Fox News commentator Margaret Hoover, who took the joint, held it to her nose, and nodded that it was indeed exactly what it looked like.
As one member of the panel, Reihan Salam of the National Review Online, made the point that many of the legal marijuana distributors were encouraging people to vote against Proposition 19, Bill Maher made the counterpoint that they stood to lose money should the ballot proposition go through. Maher also threw in that Prohibition had Al Capone and illegal liquor, which raised the prices of alcohol — a reason why illegal cultivators of marijuana opposed Proposition 19.
At that moment, Zach Galifianakis yelled, “Oh, my god! Look at those dragons!” He looked about wildly, sending the audience off into gales of laughter. He said, “That’s my point.”
And his point? That marijuana isn’t the “devil weed” and gateway drug that it has been made out to be by decades of misinformation, discrediting, and hyperbolic propaganda such as the famous “Reefer Madness” movie.
But should it be legalized? Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law earlier in the month a decriminalization of marijuana, making simple possession of marijuana a non-criminal but ticketable offense.
Proposition 19, which Governor Schwarzenegger opposes because he finds it too general an Act, seeks to legalize marijuana possession and regulate its manufacture, distribution, and usage through various taxes and fees.
Proposition 19 appears on the California ballot for popular vote on November 2.
Note: The author in no way condones or condemns the use of marijuana.
The video of Zach Galifianakis’ proving his point by smoking a joint on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” on HBO follows.
“Real Time” video clip, YouTube.com