Jay Z: ‘The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail’
Jay Z narrates a short film featuring artwork by Molly Crabapple, in which he discusses the “war on drugs” and everything from the Nixon administration and the Rockefeller drug laws to mass incarceration and how it affected the African American communities over the last 40+ years.
In ‘A History of the War On Drugs,’ Jay Z highlights that the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world; including China, Russia, Iran and Cuba. He also mentions that as drug laws got stiffer, Black and Latino people were more likely to go to jail for crack use or distribution, despite the fact that White people used crack/cocaine more. “When the war on drugs began in 1971, our prison population was around 200,000. Today it is over 2 million,” the film states.
According to the film there were more than 1.5 million drug arrests in 2014. 80% of those arrests were for mere possession. Almost half of those arrests were for marijuana. Jay Z interestingly enough brings up the many states were weed is legal, however even if you are a entrepreneurial person of color wanting to break into legal weed sales, you still have several barriers ahead of you — one of which being the many venture capitalists who have migrated to these states to open multi-million dollar operations. Also, if you’re a former felon, you can’t legally open a dispensary.
Policy makers are joining advocates in demanding an end to biased policing and mass incarceration, and in November, Californians specifically have the opportunity to vote Yes on Prop 64, the most racial-justice-oriented marijuana legalization measure ever. Prop 64 would reduce (and in many cases eliminate) criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, and it’s retroactive — people sitting in prison for low-level marijuana offenses would be released and have their records expunged. In addition, Prop 64 would drive millions of dollars in direct funding and investments to those communities most harmed by the criminal justice system.
“Rates of drug use are as high as they were when Nixon declared this so-called ‘war on drugs’ in 1971,” says Jay Z. “45 years later, it’s time to rethink our policies and laws. The ‘war on drugs’ is an epic fail.”
Watch the Entire Video Below: