Stephen Colbert, comedian extraordinaire and defender of American liberty, is at it again. This time, he’s challenged Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich to rethink his views on marijuana.
John Kasich actively opposed Issue 3 in Ohio, which would have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, but not because it would have created an oligopoly on all cannabis produced in the state. Instead, Kasich has been quoted as saying that legalization is a “terrible idea” which “sends mixed messages to young people about drugs.”
During Colbert’s interview with Kasich, the topic of cannabis was the elephant in the room that would not be ignored.
“Why do you think we still need to keep pot illegal?” asked Colbert.
“Well, the problem is we have a huge drug crisis in this country,” Kasich responded.
“Is that really pot that’s the drug crisis? Lots of people are going to jail for minor infractions and it ruins their entire lives,” Colbert noted, indicating a strong argument for decriminalization.
Kasich objected to this point, saying that Ohio doesn’t mistreat drug offenders:
“We treat them and we pass them off to society…The problem with marijuana is this: We don’t want to tell our kids, ‘Don’t do drugs, but by the way, this drug is okay.’”
“Isn’t that what alcohol is?” Colbert countered with a deftly placed jab in Kasich’s anti-marijuana rhetoric, and the audience roared.
Kasich struggled to regain the conversation on the dangers of drug addiction, discussing citizens who have been affected by drug addiction that he’s encountered on the campaign trail, easily switching the topic from cannabis to heroin and fentanyl.
“I want to be clear, I’m not arguing for legalizing heroin,” said a deadpan Colbert to laughs from the audience.
Kasich continued in the same vein, “We don’t need to take the approach where we send a confusing and mixed message to our children.”
When asked by Colbert whether he himself has used marijuana before, Kasich admitted that, yes, he has, but no, he was never caught using marijuana by the police.
That’s when Colbert went in for the kill shot.
“If you had been caught smoking marijuana and had it on your record, would you be the governor of Ohio right now?”
Point-counterpoint and a slam dunk for Colbert.
Kasich played it off, saying maybe if Colbert had been campaigning for him, he might still have the job, but Colbert hammered the point home: “What I mean is it ruins a life to have that police records because you can’t get a job.”
The governor defended his position by saying that Ohio has a program to expunge records for nonviolent offenders. “We don’t want to put people in prison. I don’t want to ruin anybody’s life…We don’t want to be in a position to demonize people, I just don’t want to legalize drugs.”
Colbert, you wise, hilarious soul. The entire cannabis community, along with 58 percent of Americans who support legalization, thanks you with applause for your perfect choice of questions here.
Watch the full interview below: