Friday night’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher ended with Maher lighting up a joint after a pro-marijuana statement. The FCC immediately fined him $1.7 million, the largest fine since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl halftime in 2004.
“You can’t smoke a joint on television; I don’t care if it’s a pay channel. Kids are looking at the video of it on YouTube as we speak,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. “One of his panel members was obviously not happy with the event and Maher put her in danger from the potentially deadly marijuana smoke.”
The city of Los Angeles is also looking into the issue of Maher sharing the joint with guest panel member Killer Mike. Under the rules of medical marijuana in California, the weed bought can not be given to anyone besides the person whose name is on the prescription. Each medical card member must purchase and use only their weed, or it violates the terms of the prescription.
While no reported deaths have ever been confirmed, Wheeler used a story by satirical website The Daily Currant as evidence of marijuana’s deadly potential. ‘Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization’ was published after Colorado legalized its use and people have used it as scientific fact for the dangers of weed.
“The million dollar fine will deter comedians from being so reckless on television,” said Wheeler. “What if a kid sees the episode and thinks smoking weed is okay?”
Bill Maher has hired an attorney to fight the fine. Maher told Deadline Hollywood, “This is an outrageous fine and the FCC has no authority to dictate what I do or don’t do on television.
“Sure, maybe I should not have passed the joint, but I’m not a selfish person. Puff, puff pass is the saying in case you didn’t know.”
As Bill Maher has petitioned to have President Obama on his show, smoking a deadly joint on live television will probably not help his cause.