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Comedian Maher fights for right to smoke pot


Last week, a Gallup poll said 58 percent of Americans want the government to legalize recreational marijuana. Palms headliner Bill Maher did not miss this news. He memorized it.

“Two-thirds of young people under 30 want it to be legal. They’ve never lived in a world where it was evil,” says Maher, who will perform stand-up at the Palms on Saturday and Sunday.

Maher, who enjoys weed, thinks Americans see an economic value in legalizing pot outright.

“It’s like gambling. Hello, Nevada — once they found out that was a revenue stream in the state, they couldn’t open casinos fast enough.”

I joked to Maher it must be tough to be a social conservative, because in America now, it’s OK to be gay, smoke pot, get public health insurance and watch free porn online.

“It is,” he said. “That’s really what drives the tea party crazy. It’s never about anything logical. They can scream about Benghazi, or the Obamacare website, or whatever the latest thing is. The truth is, what’s driving them nuts is emotional. The country is changing.”

Maher thinks small-government conservatives hurt their credibility when they fight gay rights and marijuana use.

“Those issues kind of work against what their brand has been, which is freedom — freedom in getting the government off your back. Well, if you want to get the government off our backs, then stop telling us who we can marry and what we can smoke.”

All right, well, let’s move onto something more personal: Since Maher smokes pot with famous people, who is the most fun celeb to smoke with?

Obvious answer: Woody Harrelson.

“He’s certainly the one who has the most experience.”

Two weeks ago, Maher posted a photo on Twitter of himself holding a giant joint as he and Harrelson laughed. Maher visits Harrelson’s Maui estate every New Year’s, too.

“They don’t call it Maui Wowie for nothin’,” he says.

But Maher suggests he is not an all-consuming marijuana fetishist, as some potheads are.

“I’m glad it’s in the world. I’m glad I don’t overdo it. But this connoisseurship is ridiculous. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh this is the best, you’ve got to try this.’ OK, it’s all the same — it’s pot.”

I told Maher my theory that everyone needs to be honest with what kind of fetish they have, whether it’s pot or anything else. For instance, I call people who are preoccupied with guns “gun fetishists.”

“Exactly,” Maher says. “The percentage of people in America who own guns is way down. Yet the number of guns sold is going up. That’s because the fewer people who do have guns buy ever more guns, and that goes right into your theory. They’re fetishists.”

Maher and I are both puzzled by people who post Facebook photos of themselves holding guns like babies.

“I am a gun owner. I am not a gun nut, because I have never taken a picture with a gun. And I never would. I don’t enjoy them,” Maher says.

“I look at them like antibiotics. It’s something I hope I never have to use, but I’m glad it’s in the world just in case I do. But it’s not like I polish my Amoxicillin and put my Cipro in a glass case and look at it lovingly and take pictures with it.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.