Talib Kweli has spent more than a decade as one of the most politically charged performers in hip-hop. Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street and several other milestone protest movements during that time have gotten direct support from Talib, not just in the form of lyrics but often through direct work with activists on the ground.
Marijuana legalization is just one of the issues that Kweli has pledged his support for. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Talib said that he foresees legal recreational weed use becoming commonplace in the near future. One of the biggest signs of this, says Kweli, is that conservatives — often opposed to gains for marijuana legalization in the past — have begun to mobilize behind it in the libertarian movement. Still, Talib does seem dubious of the intent behind the new push.
“The racism and the sentencing has always been a problem, but no one gave a s**t about that for years. Now, you have a libertarian movement in the conservative circles that is starting to see that there’s a financial benefit and a political benefit to legalizing pot, so we’re starting to see it happen.”
Kweli’s comments mirror what many critics of the War on Drugs have been saying since its inception. Talib argues that the so-called war on hard drugs has often served to villainize those struggling with addiction. Marijuana legalization, he says, could be one of the first steps to rectify the situation.
“The War on Drugs is something that was specifically designed by conservative elements in our country in the Sixties under the rule of Richard Nixon to play up the images of the dangerous inner-city drug addict. They were saying that ‘Drug dealers are worse than terrorists. We’re putting drug dealers in jail at record numbers.’ The idea that we’re moving away from that, at least when it comes to marijuana, is a great thing.”
Even though only Washington, D.C. and three states have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, increased acceptance of the drug is undeniable, says Kweli. In 2014, a group of researchers who have been tracking American attitudes toward the plant for more than 40 years found that, for the first time, a 52 percent majority of U.S. citizens are now in favor of legalization. That’s compared to 33 percent in 2004 and just 16 percent in 1990, reported The Washington Post.
Talib notes that the growing acceptance for marijuana legalization isn’t just reflected in statistics, but also in the way that popular culture now portrays weed.
“We live in a marijuana culture. Everything you see on television, everybody smokes pot. We’re just starting to be honest about it. We’re not going to change people’s hearts, we’re not going to legislate how people feel… their stereotypes about who smokes weed and who doesn’t.”
Do you think Talib Kweli is on point about marijuana legalization’s future?
[Image via Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images]