Killer Mike: Weed Biz Should Benefit Blacks, Too
Killer Mike has a plan for integrating African-Americans into the marijuana industry.
In a new op-ed piece, appearing in Rolling Stone’s website, the rapper and activist details the history of marijuana’s hazy relationship with America. Mike mentions recent “ballot initiatives” in 28 states and the District of Columbia permitting medical marijuana use, and eight others legalizing the drug for recreational use, as a sign that we are seeing exponential growth in an industry expected to gross over $40 billion in the next four years.
“But not everyone is benefitting from the marijuana boom,” Mike writes. “As more and more people race to cash in, it’s becoming apparent that African-Americans in particular are being left behind.”
The racial disparities are significant. Statistics compiled by Buzzfeed show just one percent of the 3,000 plus dispensaries in America are Black-owned. Many African-Americans have been deterred from profiting from pot due to non-violent drug crimes that have disqualified their participation, Mike states.
One solution, he says, is following California. The state recently passed Proposition 64, a law not only legalizing recreational use, but allowing for those who were convicted of marijuana-related offenses to have their records cleared. The historic legislation also allows for citizens to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their private homes. It requires tax revenue from the sale of marijuana to be allocated to research and youth programs and penalizes offenders with up to six months in jail for selling without a license, plus fines for lesser crimes.
Mike points out that other states that have opted to legalize marijuana, such as Colorado and Washington, have failed to adequately address the people who were unfairly, and disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition. While Colorado and Washington aren’t as tolerant of non-violent drug offenders, Maine and Massachusetts are more “explicitly forgiving,” Mike states.
“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,” he writes.
The rapper, who penned his latest piece under his birth name Michael Render, has been vocal about this issue in the past. In the song “American Dream” off his 2008 Pl3dge album, Killer Mike raps, “In America the crooks get the castles/ Never see a Rothschild or Rockefeller shackled/ While Rockefeller Drug Laws keep us in a shackle/ Eventually, this weed’ll be as legal as tobacco /By then, every CEO I hope will be a Black, though message to the felon, keep sellin’, my brethren/ The end of an era soon coming I tell ‘em.”
In a 2014 interview with the marijuana-advocate magazine High Times, Mike discussed pot legalization and the politics prohibiting it. He also sat with former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders last year to discuss concrete ways to reform the age-old policies that are in place, among other topics.