Rapper and entrepreneur Master P is pushing for May 20, or 5/20, to become a new cannabis holiday. But unlike the global 4/20 party, 5/20 isn’t just a celebration. It’s also a march to protest cannabis prohibition and the prison state while raising awareness for social justice activism.
Master P, whose legal name is Percy Miller, partnered with former cannabis convict Fate Winslow to roll out the 5/20 “Cannabis Freedom Day” campaign. However, the 5/20 movement picked up a new urgency after Winslow’s death last week.
Winslow “was in prison since 2008 for having a $20 bag of weed on him. He just got out in December, and he got killed the other day,” Master P told All Hip Hop. “I want to bring awareness, you know, helping prisoners when they get out. There’s so many of us locked down from marijuana when it’s legal in 34 states.”
Rather than simply decry the injustice of Winslow’s insane life sentence for holding a baggie of bud, Master P wants 5/20 to celebrate Winslow’s life, too. “This is what I am trying to do,” he said.
Winslow and his companion, Tammy Harris, were shot and killed at Harris’s home in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 4. The murder investigation is still ongoing. Winslow had been a free man for only five months before his death.
“We have to make sure that this injustice doesn’t happen to more people. We need to increase awareness, help educate our culture and help prepare the imprisoned for freedom,” Master P stated in a press release. “Anyone who is incarcerated for a small amount of cannabis and is fighting this injustice still, we want to help them gain their freedom back.”
Cannabis remains outlawed in the US at the federal level, even though 34 states now have legalized either medical or recreational cannabis. The American legal cannabis market is currently worth at least $16 billion.
While Caucasians make up the bulk of state-licensed cannabis company owners and executives, Black and Latin Americans make up the bulk of cannabis convicts. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly 31,000 Americans were serving prison sentences for cannabis offenses in 2019. That number is down from 42,000 in 2004, but there’s still work to be done.
Social justice initiatives have gained momentum over the past few years as more US states roll out recreational and medical cannabis legalization. Cannabis social justice programs include early prison release for convicts, sealing or clearing criminal records so former convicts can lead normal lives, and creating small business loans for those impacted the most by the War on Drugs.
But why 5/20? Master P provided a couple of reasons. First, 5/20 is slang for “exotic weed,” and Master P wants to reserve 5:20pm on May 20 for lighting up rare or novel cannabis strains. Second, fellow rap legend Busta Rhymes was born on May 20.
Regardless of whether Master P’s effort leads to a new weed holiday, we commend him for his hard and important work. Here’s to the next wave of cannabis legalization focusing on social justice rather than unnecessary regulations and tax schemes.
To help Fate Winslow’s family through their tragedy, donate to their GoFundMe page.