On Monday a group of plaintiffs that includes former New York Jets tight end Marvin Washington filed suit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions about marijuana.
No, Sessions didn’t smoke anyone’s stash (although he might need to take a couple of hits after Donald Trump fires him in the next few minutes). The suit challenges the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, according to the New York Post.
Schedule I is the most dangerous category of drugs, which have “high abuse potential, no medical use, and severe safety concerns” and include LSD and heroin.
“Classifying cannabis as a ‘Schedule I drug,’ is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution,” says the lawsuit. Meth and cocaine are Schedule II drugs, and thus considered more benign than marijuana under the law.
Sessions has been called out for his backward thinking on marijuana. Most states allow medical marijuana at the minimum (29 states allow medical marijuana; eight have legalized it for recreational use). Because the way the general public perceives it, both medically and recreationally, is undergoing a transformation, there needs to be a conversation about the use and understanding of cannabis. There are tons of literature explaining the various aspects of marijuana usage, but few concentrate on the cultural differences between weed consumption in the black community and in the white community … until now.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana is a plant. That’s it. We could go into the scientific classification, the genus and species, but you don’t need to know all that. Plus, if you smoke weed, it’s not as if you’re going to remember anyway.
Unlike most other “drugs,” like cocaine, Hennessy and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, you just take it off the stem and set it on fire. It is impossible to say who first discovered its mind-altering qualities. Some people say it was the Aztecs, while others say it was the ancient Chinese. There are some, however, who believe that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden was a cannabis plant, which is why God told Adam not to eat of it. He was basically telling Adam, “Don’t mess with my stash, dude.”
Others argue that before Moses freed the children of Israel, he smoked a joint with his brother, hence the “burning bush.” While that explanation seems spurious, I don’t know of any other thing that would make a person walk up to a pharaoh and tell him, “Ay, yo, man … let my people go.”
Why is it illegal?
Marijuana prohibition became the law for the same reasons as slavery and the Donald Trump presidency: racism and white fragility.
Industrial magnates (namely, pharmaceutical companies, William Randolph Hearst and the paper industry) knew that hemp plants could undercut their profits, so they initiated the “war on marijuana” by creating the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which would eventually become the Drug Enforcement Administration. The bureau’s first chief, Harry Anslinger, initiated the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. He garnered support by warning Americans about the dangers of marijuana with quotes like these:
- “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
- “[T]he primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
- “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
How does marijuana make you feel?
Good. Gooder than a motherfucker. You feel like you can pop-lock. Like being in a tickle fight with Jesus, Beyoncé and Teddy Ruxpin. It feels like how the notes from John Coltrane’s saxophone sound.
You know that feeling when you just had sex and the orgasm was mind-blowing, and you don’t have the air conditioner on, but you open the window and a cool October wind blows in, and there is a glass of grape Kool-Aid beside the bed and the ice has melted just a little bit, and you drink it and you realize there’s just a little bit of lemonade mixed in there, and then you turn on the TV and there’s an episode of Good Times on that you have never seen before, and there you are: watching Thelma’s fine ass and drinking ice-cold, perfectly sweetened Kool-Aid with a breeze on your titties?
That’s what marijuana feels like.
But is it dangerous?
Yes. Marijuana is dangerous—but only for black people.
Even though blacks and whites smoke weed at about the same rates, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. In Philadelphia, 82 percent of the people arrested for pot in 2015 were African American. In the first quarter of that same year, Newsweek reports, blacks and Hispanics made up 89 percent of New York City’s misdemeanor marijuana arrests, while whites accounted for only 8 percent.
Is it dangerous for other people? Well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2015, 33,091 people died from opioid overdoses. Nearly 13,000 more died from heroin. Around 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning each year.
Zero died from marijuana overdose.
How does one consume marijuana?
There are two ways to ingest pot: smoking it and eating it. I’m sure that some enterprising and adventurous white people have come up with other ways (like how they soak tampons in vodka and insert them into the booty hole, or drip heroin into their eye sockets), but we are talking about the black community. Let’s break down the two ways of consumption even further:
Eating marijuana: Making a marijuana edible is a long, painstaking process, and if there isn’t a store that sells edibles near you (and there probably isn’t, because you’re black), you must be able to cook. You put pot in anything from brownies to cookies to candy as an edible. I think that as soon as it is legalized, Patti LaBelle should start making Patti desserts infused with Kush because that is the only way I’d eat a sweet potato pie out of Walmart. I’ve seen them, and they are too light-skinnedededed. (If I pulled a sweet potato pie out of a box at my house, I’m sure I’d hear the voices of the ancestors cussing me out. Rosa Parks didn’t sit on the back of the bus on the Underground Railroad so we could eat pies manufactured in a warehouse.)
Anyhow, it takes a while for marijuana edibles to kick in (or so I’ve heard), but the effect lasts much longer than smoking, and you know black people love getting our money’s worth. The only bad thing about edibles is, we all know that whenever weed is legalized across America, there’ll be some slick white people who will start making cheap edibles with very little pot in them, so don’t buy the Great Value weed cookies; get Pillsbury.
Smoking marijuana: Smoking is the most popular and easiest method of marijuana delivery. It is also the most detectable. If you’ve ever seen someone whose eyes look like the color of Roma tomatoes, it’s not because they have Superman-like heat vision. They are probably high. Smoke also leaves an odor in the air and gets in your hair, your clothes and even the walls of the room. Still, the high is immediate, which is why it is preferred.
There are countless ways to smoke the substance: bongs, hash, vaporizers, pipes, joints, blunts, etc. In the late ’80s, however, the black community had a meeting and settled on one primary means of smoking marijuana that engenders community, spit sharing and communal love: the blunt.
What do the different names for marijuana mean?
The names for different strains of marijuana vary greatly. Again, it is largely by region. In California, they categorize it by the strain, potency and effects. In the South and the Midwest, there are two kinds of weed: mid (regular strength) and loud (extra strength). In the Northeast, it is all about marketing. The weed man often names his product after pop-culture things, how it makes you feel or how treacherous it is. If you buy some R. Kelly, it might make you believe you can fly and want to join a cult of young girls who have been brainwashed to separate from their parents and get peed on.
On the other hand, if you get some Rihanna, you’ll feel like singing all night (even if you can’t sing), and you’ll probably like Drake’s music. Whatever you do, don’t smoke the Donald Trump. That has PCP in it.
Does it really have any medical benefit?
There are peer-reviewed, scientific studies that show pot helps with muscle and joint pain, anxiety, pain tolerance, nausea, insomnia, chemotherapy effects and many other things, which is why it is stupid that weed is still listed as a Schedule I drug. Most scientists agree that there are valid uses for cannabis as medicine. However, very rarely does anyone ever mention the best and greatest use of marijuana:
Marijuana makes you happy.
With no side effects. There is no hangover the next morning. You can’t overdose, it’s cheaper than alcohol and it lasts longer than an orgasm.
There are also thousands of people—from family members to Arizona Sen. John McCain—who are fighting cancer with chemotherapy. Marijuana is almost universally accepted as an agent for helping with the negative effects of the treatment. A study has shown that medicinal marijuana can cause Crohn’s disease to go into complete remission. Doctors have used it to treat depression, social anxiety, glaucoma, epileptic seizures, Alzheimer’s disease and even multiple sclerosis.
Why is this a black issue?
Because black people are more likely to be arrested for weed. Because of that, black people are disproportionately disenfranchised because they are more likely to have a felony drug conviction. Because of that, black people have a weaker political voice.
Also, imagine what revenue from marijuana taxes could do for disproportionately lower-funded black schools. Imagine the economics of a brand-new American industry with no barriers to entry. Imagine the health benefits. Imagine the number of fathers and mothers not separated from their children because of the war on drugs. Imagine the number of teenagers who could receive federal financial aid if they didn’t have a drug conviction on their record.
There is no valid argument against marijuana prohibition except to help the pharmaceutical industry, alcohol companies, the private-prison industry and politicians like Jeff Sessions who want to carry out their own version of slow ethnic cleansing by prolonging the racist drug war.
Even though I don’t smoke marijuana (although, as the Caucasians say, “I experimented with marijuana in my youth”), I am not a marijuana activist.
I just like black people.