“I flick on the news, and I see images of people using marijuana and trying to run legitimate businesses, and they’re almost all white. When we thought of them as black or brown, we had a purely punitive approach. Also, it seems like its exclusively white men being interviewed as wanting to start marijuana businesses and make a lot of money selling marijuana.”-OSU Law Professor Michelle Alexander

He is the consummate illegitimate guerrilla capitalist. He is a hood icon. He is at times, a purveyor of pleasure, and at times, a psychologist to every chick in the hood. He is the invisible side nigga when your girl is broke and depressed. Thus, he has been in more pussy than tampons and sperm.  He is the father to 80% of the children of those baby mamas that appear on the Maury Show. He is also the ultimate survivor of America’s War On Drugs. He has the tenacity of a cockroach because he has outlasted both the crack and heroin dealer. He is the weed man. His legend and legacy has endured since the Jazz Age.

In an interview on the popular urban variety show The Breakfast Club, the rapper The Game appeared to discuss some monumentally irrelevant beef with fellow rapper Meek Mill. During the interview, the game dropped a jewel which i’m almost certain went over the heads of both the Djs on the show, as well as its’ listeners. He stated that there was no more money in the music industry. He said that if he never made another record, he would never go broke because he owned a marijuana dispensary. In all fairness, The Game was late to the game (no pun intended). His LBC counterpart was already in the weed business from the moment the State of California legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana usage.

Snoop Dogg either by accident, or by design, branded himself as the quintessential weed smoker ever since his debut on Dr. Dre’s seminal classic masterpiece the Chronic. Any place where marijuana was to be found, the Doggfather was sure to go. Thus, he was in on the marijuana dispensary game from the gate. This is in fact poetic justice.  Other than perhaps Cheech and Chong, no one racial group has been so much associated with marijuana than black people. From the irrational fears of 1920’s white america to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, it is undisputed that the face of marijuana in America has been primarily black and brown.

However, as the country stands on the eve of legalized marijuana legislation, that face has been dipped in clorox and has emerged from the sink white as snow. It is poignantly ironic that while black and hispanic men who have popularized the consumption of marijuana have gone to prison, white men are poised to create an oligopoly of the estimated 6 billion dollar industry. The creation of legalized medical marijuana dispensaries are netting millions for corporations in the states of Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, & California.  This drive to legalization has curiously been accompanied by an increase of drug arrests for opioids. I suspect that the purpose of these arrests is to clear the streets of possible competition for the oncoming legalization.

So the question is: where da weed man? Where are those black men that know the various strands of marijuana by aroma? Where are the Smokeys? Where are those men that are so skilled at marijuana distribution that they can generate $200.00 from a couple of nickel bags? Make no mistake about it, this industry has the power to economically rejuvenate Black America. When one considers not only the trade itself, but the ancillary businesses that will be needed to support the marijuana industry, this is the big payback that Chuck D always rapped about. Storage, transportation, janitorial and construction services will generate countless employment opportunities for a community that always seems to be a day late and $10.00 short.

So where da weed man at? We have had countless odes to marijuana from Cab Calloway’s reefer man to The Mothership baby bubba! From Rick James’s Mary Jane to the Chronic, to the movie Friday. But the real drug game is about to begin and the only ones that appear to be in the house are white suburbanites with big pharmaceutical companies following closely behind. It appears that we are once again following behind a trend that we started. Although the trend was the result of bigoted perceptions of black life, now that the pot of gold has appeared at the end of the green rainbow, black men seem to be absent yet again. It should be noted that small suburban based companies that now stand to make a mint on legal marijuana distribution, have begun to create a culture that removes the “ethnic” stigma from marijuana usage. Non-profit community groups and activists are popping up and changing the very vocabulary of the culture. For example, they frown upon the usage of the word marijuana. They prefer instead, the botanically correct term of cannabis. A 20 yr-law enforcement officer and marijuana activist told me that marijuana has an “ethnic” connotation that they are trying to change.

The contradiction here is startling but not surprising. While seeking to decriminalize marijuana usage by blacks on one hand, they(activists) are seeking to whiten the face of a massively profitable industry on the other. Simply put, when it’s criminal it’s black. When it’s profitable, it’s white. Such practices verify the suspicions of black political activists toward the white liberal. It corroborates the distrust of their motives and objectives. It is the very impetus behind a driving desire for black independence without the assistance of either the phony left or the dangerous right. Blacks must enter the fight to not only legalize marijuana, but also to capitalize on its’ eventual legislation. Why should we not profit from an industry that has been so indelibly stamped on our culture. All of us have mothers, fathers, uncles, nieces, nephews etc, that are smoking marijuana illegally. Then why should we not be the ones to sell it to them and prosper in the mean time? Whether legal or illegal, the weed man should get his cut. So where he at?

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