While Run the Jewels has been preparing to drop their highly anticipated third studio album, one-half of the hip-hop duo, Killer Mike (Michael Render) has continued to share his political views. During the 2016 US election, the rapper came out in full support of progressive presidential nominee Bernie Sanders, while also going public about his views on the first amendment and the Baltimore riots.
Yesterday, Render used an op-ed in Rolling Stone as a platform to talk about a serious issue in the exponentially growing cannabis industry: the lack of black business owners and employees. While Killer Mike views the cannabis movement as a major victory for minorities, it’s critical that the movement includes the community that was most afflicted by the War on Drugs.
“The current movement to legalize marijuana offers a small but important opportunity to dismantle these inequalities,” Render wrote in his Rolling Stone op-ed. “And yet the people most likely to be victims of marijuana prohibition are the least likely to profit in its aftermath.”
Unfortunately, his viewpoint is undeniably true. In 2013, an ACLU report stated that black Americans were four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite the fact that use between blacks and whites are essentially equal. On the flip side, according to a Buzzfeed article from last March, only one percent of the 3,200 to 3,6000 marijuana dispensaries in the US are black-owned. Additionally, the many minorities that have been arrested for nonviolent drug crimes in the past are often restricted from taking part in the industry, an ironic and depressing reality for those who were jailed over cannabis.
While Killer Mike is highly critical about the state of minorities in the cannabis industry, he does acknowledge that states like California are attempting to remedy this undertone of discrimination. Under the recently passed Prop 64, those with past marijuana-related convictions are eligible to have their records scrubbed clean, but many convicted of nonviolent drug crimes are still legally unable to operate marijuana dispensaries. Other states, like Massachusetts and Maine, have moved to allow those convicted of marijuana-related offenses to fully participate in the cannabis industry as well.
Still, as legal cannabis begins to solidify its place throughout the country, minorities are at risk of being brushed aside in an industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by white business owners. In the article, Render also discusses the history of how the criminalization of cannabis was racially charged from the start, and how Richard Nixon amplified this by declaring the War on Drugs. All in all, Killer Mike is calling on the cannabis industry to open the doors of opportunity to the black community, which has been unjustly impacted by the drug war for decades upon decades.
“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. The price they have already paid for our failed drug policy is steep enough,” Killer Mike concluded.