“The price they have already paid for our failed drug policy is steep enough,” Killer Mike writes.
Killer Mike has penned an op-ed for Rolling Stone that addresses how and why black people are being left out of the legal marijuana market boom, according to Okayplayer.
In the essay the rapper and activist discusses the history of marijuana prohibition in America, and how those often affected by the prohibition are Black and Latino people. “As marijuana reform begins to de-escalate the drug war, creating new opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship in the process, it is imperative that the people most in need of a second chance actually get one,” Mike wrote. “The price they have already paid for our failed drug policy is steep enough.”
To this point the Run The Jewels rapper calls on state lawmakers to reform laws that prohibit “convicted felons, including those convicted of nonviolent drug crimes, from operating, or even working in” dispensaries in the United States.
“The current movement to legalize marijuana offers a small but important opportunity to dismantle these inequalities,” Mike said. “And yet the people most likely to be victims of marijuana prohibition are the least likely to profit in its aftermath.”
— Marlo Stanfield (@bury_money) December 14, 2016
Similar to Mike’s essay is a video that Jay Z did earlier this year on the war on drugs in America, titled “A History Of The War On Drugs: From Prohibition To Gold Rush.” In a collaborative project with The New York Times, the rapper proceeded to discuss the ways in which the war on drugs that began with the Nixon administration, had affected minorities in the United States.
One of those effects? Those who have been charged a felon. People that move to places such as Colorado or Washington State cannot cash in on the booming marijuana business present there, because such charges stop them from being able to open up a dispensary of their own.
Killer Mike has been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for quite some time, Hiphopdx states. Now that eight states have approved recreational cannabis use and 28 have approved medical marijuana, business has started booming.
Noting that only one percent of all marijuana dispensaries are Black-owned, the Run the Jewels rapper explains the difficult process of getting into the industry.
“Although there are number of barriers to entry, one of the most concerning is that people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes are often disqualified from participation in the marijuana industry altogether – something that states like California have begun to address with their marijuana reform initiatives,” Killer Mike, who has also advocated for people to support Black banks, writes.
He proceeds to break down the history of laws against marijuana and how they have greatly affected minority populations.
Killer Mike: Black People Are ‘Being Left Behind’ In Marijuana Industry https://t.co/C5vohofXDO
— Bryan Logan (@bryanwlogan) December 12, 2016
“Given the history of marijuana prohibition in the United States – a history rooted in the deliberate demonization and criminalization of black and Hispanic men – it’s clear that barring access to people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes ends up reproducing many of the same racial inequalities that have characterized marijuana laws for decades,” he continues.
Each state has its own process for reversing the effects of these laws and Killer Mike calls for each one to seriously consider the ramifications of past convictions for actions that are no longer illegal. Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize weed for recreational purposes, are more strict on granting dispensary ownership to those with a history of drug convictions while California, who just approved the legalization of marijuana in November’s election, already has a plan to clean the slates of those charged for nonviolent drug crimes.
RZA also shared commentary on the legalization of marijuana and how it affected the Black community in an interview last month.
“Even though it’s a criminal industry, it’s an industry that we built,” RZA said on Sway in the Morning. “Now, these young men and corporations are about to make millions and millions of dollars on it and nobody’s going to jail. Yet, we got kids that are sitting in jail from the same entrepreneurship.”
But not everyone is benefitting from the marijuana boom. As more and more people race to cash in, it’s becoming apparent that African-Americans in particular are being left behind, the Rolling Stone states. According to a BuzzFeed report last March, just one percent of America’s 3,200 to 3,600 marijuana dispensaries are black-owned. Although there are a number of barriers to entry, one of the most concerning is that people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes are often disqualified from participation in the marijuana industry altogether – something that states like California have begun to address with their marijuana reform initiatives.
The current movement to legalize marijuana offers a small but important opportunity to dismantle these inequalities. And yet the people most likely to be victims of marijuana prohibition are the least likely to profit in its aftermath.
Marijuana use has alway been a controversial question, as the border between a drug and a medicine is too thin. That is why it is extremely important that celebrities like Killer Mike speak out and show the discussion is much more serious and goes deeper than it seems. Diversity in this regard means first of all the possibility of taking into account more than one opinion on the bipartisan issue.