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November 1st, 2010
08:17 AM ET

Toking on TV

Talk about "firing up" late night television!!! HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" pushes the envelope with one guest lighting up what appears to be a joint. On Friday, "Hangover" star Zach Galifianakis went on the show to talk about marijuana legalization, then shocked everyone when he reached into his pocket, grabbed what looks like a joint and lit up!

As he offers it to another panelist, she declines but confirms his doobie is the real thing. After laughing about it, it got us to thinking. Can you really do that on TV?? Without fear of prosecution??

I want to know your thoughts on this. Do you think the incident helps or hurts the prop 19 initiative or will it have any impact at all? Leave your comment here and we'll share some of the best responses in our 10 o'clock hour.

Filed under: Anchors • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. NOah

    How do you know that Zak doesn't have a prescription from a doctor?

    November 1, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  2. David Stowe

    It is surprising that the legal advice you received did not point out the fact that no one had preformed a legal test on the substance that was being smoked. That is the only way it could move from entertainment to law breaking.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  3. kimberly pilson

    i do not thnk that Zach lighting up a joint on telivision is going to influence anything on the proposition 19, it just shows how alot of celebrities support the legalization of marijuana.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  4. Eric

    Its 2010 people. We know marijuana isn't harmful, and he was making a point. Its time for America to wake up and realize cannabis as the cash crop it is! Tax tax tax.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  5. Travis Rogers

    i Worry more about kids seeing the drinking of copious amounts of alcohol to the point of drunkenness on TV than one comedian smoking a joint. I believe Alcohol hurts and kills more people than Pot. It should have no effect on Prop 19.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  6. Donna

    1. Bill Maher's show is not a children's show, and is on a premium channel, so the point that it is a bad example for children is moot.

    2. Marijuana should be decriminalized, and arresting someone for lighting up will just turn the person who issued the warrant into a public laughingstock.

    3. Lighten up!

    November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  7. Taylor

    I watched this show and was very surprised but cheered Zach's the act of defiance. The simple fact is many professional, responsible people smoke pot but fear prosecution if they speak out. I'm sure the the anti Prop 19 people will try to use this as a negative example of what will happen if the Prop 19 passes.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  8. Simmy

    Your earlier report indicated alcohol as the most destructive “drug”. I suspect marijuana to be the least and wonder why you didn’t show that statistic.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  9. john walker

    Another "daily" report on gay sex! It is everyday, no exception.
    As far as Maher's show and the joint – really, who cares? You're making a big del out of it. It's HBO #1 and it's the left #2, and it is THE MEDIA blowing it out of proportion.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  10. Will Power

    Hi Kyra,
    Here's an idea. How about legalizing marijuana, regulating it like alcohol and imposing a tax on it? We need to turn this economy around somehow!


    November 1, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  11. Kenny

    There is being too much made over Zach lighting up on Maher. First off legally he is only going to get a ticket similar to a traffic violation. Second if your children are watching HBO political shows you need to get them a Playstation or something let them be children for christ sake. I support The Prop 19 as a Veteran, a father, and an individual. Legalization would create JOBS and boost economy. YES some individual cases of legal trouble in the court system would be in a cross roads, but isn't this the reason we elect officials? Who says where the line is America? Well if that is your question for what is going on then ask your self this... Who did you vote for on election day?

    November 1, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  12. Frank S

    The incident will have no impact on the initiative. It is simply a "for-the-media" act that will bounce around the echo chamber that passes for news these days. Thanks for trying to stir up interest in prosecuting the guest, Bill Mahr and/or the production company, that would be good TV, wouldn't it? The good news is, once the initiative passes, it won't be a "big deal" anymore.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  13. The Dude

    I see no problem with it. Props to Bill and Zack. Maybe if more people had the cojones to do what these guys did, the madness of prohibition would have ended long ago. Prohibition doesn't work, never has and never will.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  14. Jason

    I stood up and applauded when I saw this clip. This man stood up to an immoral law and archaic law. How dare the government tell us what we can put in our body? How dare the government tell us we can't alter our own consciousness? Our government is throwing people in jail for smoking a harmless plant, and then legalizes and taxes alcohol, which we are seeing this morning is more harmful than crack. If HBO has any guts, they'll stand up for Zach Galifianakis.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  15. tet1953

    I believe that the government has no business prohibiting or even regulating a substance that is 100% natural, as cannabis is. With pot, you grow it, pick it and smoke it, that's it. You can't even say that about alcohol, which is a manmade substance that has to be concocted. There is certainly no comparison to other manmade drugs. It's just a plant.
    It is also very interesting how many people are coming out in favor of legaliation, from every quarter including law enforcement, politics, the judiciary, and the medical community. I fully expect Prop 19 to pass, and national legalization within 5 years.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  16. bansi

    "a bad example for the kids"?? your kids watch Bill Mahar?? That's bad parenting Most of guests that CNN turns to, when trying to sell a point of view, are not that smart/bright. It might be illegal to 'toke' on TV but i know for sure it is illegal to constantly threaten people all over the world with terrorism allegations and warnings and tsa screenings and pat-downs a.k.a. sexual assault. I don't really hear guests coming on talking about those 'not important issues for CNN' topics.....

    November 1, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  17. Billyrich

    That guy who insinuated that Bill Mahr should be blamed in some way
    for allowing the gentleman to "light up"on his show should go "jump in
    a lake". I feel that is what is wrong with this country, don't worry about
    poverty, job losses, health care but "weed". I, like Michelle Obama am
    not proud to be an american right now.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  18. Lester E Butts

    I don't think it will hurt anything. Pot should be legal. People say God created everything for a purpose. Pot has been here since the beginning of time. Pot is not a drug,it's a herb.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  19. Scott Stodden

    Kyra First And Foremost I Love You And Watch You Every Single Morning Your Work As A Journalist Is Phenomenal And I Love Your No Nonsense Way Of How You Ask Questions Which Is What A True Journalist Does! I Honestly Don't Think That It Was Wrong For Zack Galifianakis To Light Up A Joint On Bill Maher's Show Which Is On HBO, No Kids Should Be Up Watching Bill Maehr's Show Anyways But There Is Nothing Wrong With People Who Smoke Weed It, When Was The Last Time You Heard Of Anyone Doing Anything Crazy Because There High On Weed? Weed Can Help People Who Are In Chronic Pain Of Who Are Ill And That's Who It Should Be Legal For! Marijuana Should Be Legal In Alll 50 States For Medical Purposes But Its Not Like Zack Galifianakis Was Smoking Crack Or Shooting Up Heroin Or Snorting Coke Its A Just A Joint For Crying Out Loud And It Happened On HBO, Not Everyone Gets HBO Kyra!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    November 1, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  20. Ronnie Robertson

    Why wouldn't they legalize pot? California is making 14.8 billion a year. If the rest of the country joined in this country would go back up because all the money it will pull in and that could be used to get this country out of debt.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  21. Shawn

    Hi Kyra, I watch cnn every oppitunity and love the shows. On the prop 19 initiative, I strongly think that what happened on the Bill Maher show did help the prop 19 Issue. Thank you!

    November 1, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  22. Southgate Jo

    There is a whimsical spontaneity in today's society. Our discretion for common sense tends to be a thing of the past. This is in part because of our unwillingness to enforced candor or reason.

    The network that displayed this needs to be disciplined as well as the individual who decided to act like a child. Until this is deemed legal, it is still a violation of the law in most states. A violation of our rights as well. I know I am a fraction of those Americans that still adhere to the letter and spirit of the law. It is however still, a violation of the law punishable by time in jail. It's hard to believe the network isn't complicit.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  23. David Laurent

    Hi Kyra
    My comment about the smoking pot on tv.
    No surprize there, this is where our society is heading and it will be getting worse, smoking pot,man kisses man,woman with woman.
    What a way to teach our kids.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  24. Gabriel

    Prop 19 is a perfect example of this groups hipocracy.
    You can't go into any public place and enjoy a cigarette, or cigar in
    most locals in California.
    Yet they are attempting to rationalize smoking an unfilterd joint.
    Where is the out cry for second hand smoke now.
    I'm not opposed to legalization, but at least be up front and honest about you intentions.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  25. Diana Reardon

    Dear Kyra,
    I watched this show on Bill Maher. I loved it. I agree with prop 19. I do not care if people smoke marijuana. Our country should legalize it. The opposition runs comercials that show people driving while smoking marijuana. We would not drink alchohal and drive, so why would we smoke and drive. Our laws will keep the public in check the same way we do with DUI'S. Scare tactics only. Marijuana is less likely to make a person act violent like alchohal will. We need the taxes from the sale of marijuana. This would help our country out of a sure decline. Other countries that already have this legalization of marijuana do just fine. I'm tired of paying my taxes to put people in prison for it. We need to free up our police to solve and fight the real crimes in our country. Thank you.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  26. Conservative Viewer

    I like Bill Maher. However, I do not think smoking a joint on TV tells any audience the right meassge. Smoking Marihuana is against the law so such an act conveys advocacy for disregard of the law. I suspect the FCC will have something to say here. Moreover, the California ballot initiative will undoubtedly be challenged in court if it passes. That challenge will FOLLOW the law and its process. Immagine if you will the prosecutor in such a case decides (as was done on TV) not to follow the law, and subverts the law affecting the lives of Bill Maher and his guests and his TV sponsors in entirely the wrong way. We are a nation of laws, hence you all in the Media, liberal bias notwithstanding, need to play be the same rules as everyone. Otherwise the law is meaningless.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  27. SoFla

    Is this for real? We're making this big of a deal over smoking a joint? Don't we have other things to worry about, like our crumbling infrastructure, greedy politicians, Afghan War, unemployment, and a dysfunctional financial system? It's a joint, not like he got naked and made lude gestures at Margaret Hoover!! Would we make as big a deal if he had a highball during prohibition? It's the same thing, for crying out loud. The law is a joke. As an American I should have the FREEDOM of choice to inebriate myself as I choose, just like I should have the choice to live my sex life with who I choose. The level of hypocrisy in this coutry is nauseating. The people who choose to do the most docile of intoxicants must stay "in the closet," face prosecution, the loss of their career, freedom, and right to pursue happiness, while the drunkards can go out to the most prime locations of our cities, get drunk and let it all hang out. Let the potheads out of the closet, and join the rest of us in the celebration of our lives. Enough is enough.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  28. Cris Martinez

    I believe that this whole ordeal is bigger than it should be, which is why I feel it should be legalized. Honestly in all fairness had he been drunk or drinking a bottle of JD or something to that effect the only news report on it would have been that Zack made a fool of himself on the Bill Maher show, same way Steve-o did. Prop 19 isnt going to be effected by this stunt by Zack this close to the election, I'm more than sure who ever is going out to vote on it has already made up their minds. I also dont believe this was planned by anyone other than Zack himself and once producers realized how Real the joint was you can see Zack put it out. The main topic was discussed on Bill's show and I am sure that he pointed out a lot of key points that we would beniffit from in the decriminalization of Marijuana.

    This is not news...and to try to prosecute Zack goes to show how many people are accually out there waiting for Bill or some one like Bill to screw up just to take them off TV.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  29. Canadian Toker

    Kudos to Zach and his fearless display of love for the green that so many of us have, but so few are afraid to broadcast. I can't say whether or not it will have much impact on prop 19, but it gets two thumbs up from tokers everywhere!

    November 1, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  30. Reggie C.

    NO IMPACT!! ...unless you keep posing these kinds of questions that will naturally cause more fear among those who fear what they have NO familiarity with! I do not smoke pot, but I can clearly see how keeping it illegal is ridiculous on its face. If pot must remain illegal because of the harm it supposedly causes our children, then why are cigarettes legal??? Can prejudiced social suppression get any more obvious?

    November 1, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  31. Alex

    Oh, politically correct America. If we are really shocked about this kind of issues, how about we start with alcohol & tobacco, which is killing more people daily than any cannabis will ever do? People WILL smoke it, regardless of your opinions. They did for thousands of years and they will continue for years to come. The question is, who is going to regulate the market? Government (like they do already in Europe) or underground world.

    As far as firing up a joint on TV? Let's be real... it was a happening to get some attention to the issue. I guess it worked.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  32. Chris in WI

    Anyone who argues you should not ingest weed because it is illegal is missing the point.

    It should not be illegal.

    Water is more toxic then Marijuana. If you disagree you are wrong.

    You can do some research and see the shady dealings that clearly happened in Congress during the Marihuana Tax Act/1937 (look up and read the transcripts, like how the AMA tried to stop it because they became aware late in the hearings that Marihuana was Cannabis, a drug doctors had been using to treat people for literally Millennia).

    November 1, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  33. Chuck

    I think it is a grave invasion of your privacy when a company can fire you for something you do at home. I am a union worker, I have only worked 6 months in 2 years. I choose to use pot to relief my stress and help with my appetite and insomnia. When I got the call back to work I stopped using, but 35 days on the job I was picked for a random drug screen and fired for pot which still showed up after 35 days. I feel my health and decision to use a natural herb to treat my issues verses man made chemical drugs should be my choice. I understand safty at work , but what I do on my own time in the privacy of my home should not be any company or goverment buisness.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  34. James Jonsel

    He didn't kill or rape the female on the stage so I say it's a positive. Both of those were said to be the effects of marijuana in the past you know, but the lies keep changing once you disprove the latest one.
    Please Vote Yes on 19 tommorow.
    If my kid goes to college and decides to buy some marijuana one day, I worry way more about gun toting drug dealers and trigger happy police, than I worry about the effects of marijuana. A nice safe store sounds just fine.
    It seems like it's just a matter of time, as more and more people are for legalization every year. I hope this is the start.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  35. fred

    the good old usa way until they can tax it or make money on it its illegal but it would produce so many other things from clothing to paper also crime would go down but the american people aren't ready to admit that the government would have to come up with another source of income from the lack up business.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  36. Natalie

    The war on drugs has lost. Millions of dollars, which we desperately need back now have been wasted on telling people what they can or cannot do to their own bodies during their private time. People are going to do what they want, no matter what the law says. I believe we should tax the drugs, which will help each state raise the money they desperately need during this recession. And it will benefit our prison system by removing non-violent drug users who did nothing wrong and leave more room for the real criminals, like those who kill or rob or rape innocent people.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  37. Matt

    "Water is more toxic then Marijuana. If you disagree you are wrong."

    Look, I support Prop 19 and all, and it sounds like you feel the same way, but please, please don't use that line in public ever again.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  38. Taylor

    If this is going to held against Maher, then what about all the abuse shown on Intervention? There on cable TV you can watch a person smoking Crack, shooting Heroin, and all sorts of other drugs. They film and broadcast all these actions. Is this different just because of the future intent to send the individual to rehab? They are putting the individuals in harms way, and many times medical emergencies occur.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  39. Dan

    So, even though the speed limit signs on the highway says 65, it's not breaking the law to drive 80 MPH; therefore, the state patrol officer can't give you a ticket for speeding?
    As of this time, Marijuana is not legal, whether people beleive it is or not; therefore, ZAC should face the legal avenue.
    Matt, H2O is a need to survive, so for you to say that H2O is more toxic than Marijuana is ludicrous. If you beleive your own statement, go a few days without water. Let me know after 3 days how you feel without water.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  40. Dennis

    not about toking. I hope when all this election thing is over you wont forget about the vets. the VA system is still broken for vets with ptsd. there is a bias against vets with mental injuries in the compensation system. the system is still geared toward vets with physical injuries, in fact if a vet doesnt learn his issues are ptsd till years later, he forefits all those years of struggle. vietnam vets who get diagnosed 30 years later, forefit 30 years of benefits only because the system wasnt there when we needed it.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  41. bonnie

    I am old hippie...a teacher....a mom. I love that he lit up. I just
    happened to be watching. It's about time.

    November 1, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  42. MrGreen1982

    I hope this affects the vote in a positive way, however I doubt it will becuase most people have already made up thier minds when it comes to pot. Hopefully they have come to the conclusion that if pot is legalized in California, the sky will not fall, crime will not increase and this issue is really about personal freedom and the government's right to tell us what we can and can't do in private when it hurts noone or steals anything from anyone. Marijuana was made illegal for extremely outdated industrial and just plain racist reasons. Vote yes on Prop 19 and help end the failed war on drugs and reverse a law that makes no sense.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  43. Cathy Westcott

    I thought it was great. It's about time. So many people have went to jail. My first boyfriend got caught with pot in his high school locker. The Judge told him to join the military or go to jail. Six weeks later he was in VIet Nam.... He should have went to jail...
    We need to change laws that do no good and hurt people who aren't hurting anyone. We must question authority....

    November 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  44. The Dude

    @ Matt

    Do you have a problem with the truth being spoken in public? Water is more toxic than marijuana. Drink a couple gallons of water too quick and you will die, that's a fact.

    November 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  45. Stan M, WA

    Non-toxic, mild to non-existent addictive properties, and safer to use than aspirin or alcohol.
    But certain unions and corporations love the money that keeping it illegal brings. And their bribes always win.
    Making criminals out of kids is a big lucrative industry. Destroying lives with nonsensical laws creates a revolving door to money – big money.
    Money takes away our freedoms and rights so easily. And so many are poor – they have no hope.
    As an American, my anger at the anti-pot lobbyists is righteous anger.
    We need our freedoms and rights in America, not more corruption.

    November 2, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  46. Marjorie

    My love for America is threatened by the constant and delusional anti-pot hysteria that has ruled the Drug War all these years.
    The Drug War never worked and never will.

    November 2, 2010 at 5:21 am |
  47. Lori

    Yes we have been more than bombarded with robocalls this election season. Why aren't those calls stopped if we are on the "do not call" list? They are far more harrassing than the regular advertising that the "do not call" list was supposed to stop.

    November 2, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  48. Anne

    happy that today will be the end of these robocalls and the "litter" in the mail-! enough is enough. already,this morning I have received 3 calls telling me to get out and vote( I already did vote! ) and asking if I needed a ride.

    November 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  49. Michael Hirsch

    Robocalls are an annoyance and intrusive and I consider them harassment since they call repeatedly. They rate right up there with telemarketing scams and email spam on my believability list. The exception from the Do Not Call list was a stupid decision and needs to be corrected.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  50. Mikey

    I want to thank Bill Maher for helping to knock down the myths that have been propigated against this drug.It is time to tax,regulate,and legalize it, now. It should be organicly grown on farms in the USA and treated like liquor.The drug companys have too much to lose by legalization and it is time to take them out of the picture.To many people are sitting in jail and it is wrong. Good Luck California I am cheering for you.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  51. Steve Lloyd

    I have not seen any mention of the fact that weed is probably one of the most effective controlers of epilepsy and does not wreak your ability to funtion on a normal daily basis

    November 2, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  52. Darwin Hayes

    It has been proven repeatedly that marijuana has less physical side effects than alcohol or any drug that is made by the pharmaceutical companies, but it continues to be downgraded and criminalized. While doctors can hand out pills like they are candy and the alcohol companies can deliver truck loads of their product daily which both can kill people if misused, Marijuana has been deemed the cause of all drug problems in the US today. When you look at the number of people that have died from drug side effects and from overdoses as well as from drunk drivers and liver failure it is hard to think that the thing that is deemed unacceptable and illegal is something that has fewer side effects than anything. If you look into the facts about marijuana and realize that the things that have been told to the public about it have been from the very source of the things that are worse for people to use than marijuana has ever been. I just beg everyone to open your eyes to the facts and stop being victimized by the slanderous reports that have been presented to justify the criminalization of marijuana!

    November 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm |