Puerto Rico's $70-billion debt doesn't really hit home until someone like John Oliver - in his own inimitable way - points out that hospitals who can't afford their electric bills are having their power cut off. In his latest episode of "Last Week Tonight," the comedian exposed the legal loopholes that have put the island territory in a financial stranglehold, as businesses exploit its faltering economy.
"Apparently no laws apply to businessmen down there. I would not be surprised if in Puerto Rico hedge-fund managers somehow have the ability to fly due to some bullshit exemption to the law of gravity," Oliver ranted while discussing ways to help the thousands of impoverished American citizens living there.
Puerto Rico should legalize cannabis
One remedy he didn't consider is legalizing recreational marijuana use. In a special feature written for The Huffington Post in 2015, author and self-made millionaire Steve Siebold urged Puerto Rico to consider legalizing recreational cannabis use to combat the debt crisis. Noting how Colorado's economy has thrived with legal marijuana, Siebold wrote, "If you look at the bigger picture, legalized pot could strengthen even the worst struggling economy and make a good economy that much stronger."
And Puerto Rico's governor seems to be listening. During his final address to the state on Feb. 29, 2016, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla called on legislators to legalize recreational marijuana use as a way to lower crime and combat hypocrisy surrounding the island's drug laws.
Less than a year earlier, Governor Padilla legalized medical marijuana via executive order. So the territory is fast becoming one of the most progressive American jurisdictions on the issue.
Oliver doesn't mention marijuana as a potential cure for the island's financial woes. But he does treat audiences to a special appearance by Lin-Manuel Miranda - the creator and star of the award-winning hip-hop musical "Hamilton." Check out his impassioned plea for his beleaguered island home: