I recently wrote about how Jay-Z was entering into the cannabis market specifically focused on helping African Americans gain a footing within this phenomenal new market sector. As a result his brand, Monogram , which is arguably one of the coolest cannabis names out there, started placing billboards and provocative ads in several major cities to start a conversation that is desperately needed in the world.
While Jay-Z is currently focused solely on cannabis prohibition, the conversation can be extended to the war on drugs in general. Some of his provocative ad slogans include, “Weed is a federal crime. Even in states where sex with farm animals isn’t”, and “there’s a state in America where cannibalism is technically legal and cannabis isn’t”.
Another one goes “The war on drugs worked. If systemic racism was the goal.” Making the ad campaign more impactful, they were presented in black and white with large white letters promoting the message, with the image of someone who was affected by the war on drugs as the background.
Publicity stunt or cannabis activism?
Obviously, Jay-Z is a businessman. The dude pretty much touches anything and it turns to gold. Yet in this case Jay-Z has the opportunity to both be a businessman and an activist. And far from being an activist for cannabis, which I have a strong suspicion he enjoys, the activism in this case extends towards the disproportion of arrests experienced by minorities in the United States over the consumption of weed.
I am all in favor of more businessmen and women calling out the hypocrisies of the drug war. I’ve been doing this for more than two decades. The war on drugs, and drug prohibition in general is a gross violation of our human rights.
With more people in favor of cannabis than ever before it is time to take a firm stand against policies that are designed to criminalize the disenfranchised. The drug war has warped the police and given them powers that they should not hold. It has negatively affected people and their livelihood by marking them with felony offenses and not allowing them to participate as a regular citizen.
While Jay-Z’s campaign might be a brilliant publicity stunt, everything that the campaign is claiming is true. Thus, this campaign from Jay-Z can also be considered a PSA. To reverse the education that has been forced upon us by the government who has benefited from the illegality of cannabis through so many decades.
Reparations via Accessibility
One of the core principles behind legalizing cannabis is to end the systemic oppression of minorities via draconian laws. This is because the police frequently utilize drug laws to circumvent due process within minority communities. For example, getting a warrant because of a “suspected drug dealer” or frisking people because they “smell weed” or anything similar.
While Monogram aims to provide Accessibility to minorities who are negatively affected by the war on drugs, the only true way for reparations to occur is to lower the pay-gate.
By pay-gate I refer to the high cost associated with starting a cannabis related business. In some cases, licenses can cost 10s of thousands of dollars and in others even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those who live in minority communities will never have access to that kind of money.
The solution being proposed by lawmakers is that the government will help them out. Yet that may take years and the solution will still not be implemented since the individual within the minority community would still not be empowered but be dependent upon the government.
While I applaud Jay-Z’s effort in sparking up a conversation desperately needed these days- the actual solution comes by reducing the costs of entry.
I suggest simply having $1000 for year license for cultivating and selling cannabis and would be valid up until $1,000,000 in earned revenue. After this point, a cannabis business would require more robust license.
Of course, my solution is simple and quite effective which is one of the reasons why it would probably never happen. Additionally, the narrative should go beyond simply cannabis and extended to all drugs. Being arrested with drugs should not be a life sentence where a felony offense haunts you wherever you go.
We’re reaching a point in time where are drug policies desperately need to be updated. There is no way that in 2021 we are still following the directions of President Nixon, a man who was a notorious racist and was impeached as president for scandalous behavior. We even have reason to believe cannabis was placed on the controlled substance act simply because Nixon needed an excuse to go after black people and antiwar protestors.
If there is one thing we should totally cancel in 2021- it’s the controlled substance act and it’s entirely. Maybe that could be Jay-Z’s next ad.
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