As with many things in America, the cannabis experience for white people has been different from the cannabis experience for people of color. White citizens have used and traded cannabis at nearly the same rates as Black and Brown people, but Black and Brown people have been arrested nearly four times as often. In most cases, people of color have done jail time while people like me were able to grow wealth in the cannabis industry—both underground and, more recently, legally. There is no doubt that the color of my skin has given me untold advantages others do not enjoy.
The racist history of federal cannabis prohibition in the United States is the subject of Fab 5 Freddy’s Netflix documentary masterpiece Grass Is Greener. With his cast of musical icons, the filmmaker exposes the story of how mid-level bureaucrat Harry J. Anslinger ascended to be the nation’s first drug czar on the backs of Black jazz musicians and Brown citizens, a tale both shocking and unsurprising for 1930s America.
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