Nas is lending his talents to a new documentary, Smoke: Marijuana + Black America.
Hip Hop legend Nas is the executive producer and narrator of a new documentary, Smoke: Marijuana + Black America. The documentary will premiere as a two-hour special for BET examining marijuana’s multi-faceted impact on the U.S., and African Americans in particular.
Smoke is told through the lens of aficionados, policymakers, advocates, and innovators in the booming legal cannabis industry, and features several notable individuals, including Democratic VP candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, Rep. Barbara Lee, former NBA player and cannabis investor Al Harrington, WNBA superstar Cheyenne Parker, former NFL star Ricky Williams, rap star Ty Dolla $ign, Columbia University professor Carl Hart and more.
“The world has finally begun opening up to the cannabis industry the way I feel it should have years ago,” Nas said in a statement. “Even still, hate exists in this business for Black people, and that is something that sickens me and should be recognized for its blatant evil. The people that have been locked up for marijuana should not only be freed but receive restitution for the damage done to them by outdated laws. It’s important to spread awareness on this, and that’s why everyone needs to make sure they tune in and watch the documentary ‘SMOKE!’”
The doc traces the complex legacy of marijuana in the Black community, with initial use being predominately recreational. However, the criminalization of cannabis came out of mainly racial and political dynamics. America’s supposed war on drugs systematically targeted marijuana use in the Black community, while turning a symbolic and tangible blind eye to such use in white communities. The result: racially disproportionate numbers of arrests and convictions.
Smoke also reveals painful ironies, or hypocrisies, like the story of California man, Corvain Cooper, who is serving a life sentence for selling marijuana in the same neighborhood where legal dispensaries now operate in the open. In 2014, Cooper, then 34, was handed a life sentence by the feds for marijuana trafficking and financial crimes.
Smoke also puts the spotlight on African American athletes, including Williams, Parker and others who have risked their careers by openly embracing their use of cannabis. Smoke: Marijuana + Black America premieres Nov. 18 at 19 pm central (10 pm eastern) on BET.