National weed holiday and war on drugs send mixed messages




On April 20, Americans across the country, celebrated 420, a counterculture holiday dedicated to the consumption of marijuana.

The following Monday, perhaps in recognition of the holiday, national news website The Huffington Post, posted a video of Hip-Hop legend Snoop Lion (Dogg), lighting up in their offices.

Hip-hop and drug use have long gone hand in hand. However, while it might seem like Americans have let down their hair when it comes to weed, the War on Drugs is still alive and well. In 2010 16,000 teenagers of color were arrested in California for possession of marijuana, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

And while Snoop was getting high in Huffington Post’s offices, headquartered in New York City, teenagers in New York City were possibly being stopped and frisked by police officers on suspicion of marijuana possession. According to a recently released report, over the past decade, the New York Police Department has made 440,000 arrests for low-level marijuana possession charges. The vast majority of those arrested are young Black and Latino men.

In Pittsburgh, the numbers are better and police officers don’t physically arrest people for marijuana possession of 30 grams or less. But offenders usually receive a misdemeanor charge and a fine ranging from $100 to $350.

Celebrities like Snoop are paying the price too. Last May, Wiz Khalifa was arrested twice in a ten-day period for marijuana possession.

But apparently he didn’t learn his lesson. When the national Hip-Hop artist performed in his hometown of Pittsburgh last December, three individuals received medical attention for “heat exhaustion” as the rapper smoked a marijuana joint on the stage above a cloud of smoke in the audience.

So, should hip-hop artists glorify marijuana consumption? Should law enforcement lighten up? What do you think?


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