Jay Z Declares the War on Drugs an 'Epic Fail' -- Watch
By Alex Ungerman
Jay Z has a lot to say about the War on Drugs.
The 45-year-old rapper offers a scathing critique of the past four decades of U.S. drug policy in a new short film made with Dream Hampton, featuring artwork by Molly Crabapple, for the New York Times, citing the disproportionate effect it's had on black and Latino communities, as well as its failure to actually curb drug use in America.
"Rates of drug use are as high as they were when Nixon declared this so-called war in 1971," he says. "Forty-five years later, it's time to rethink our policies and laws. The war on drugs is an epic fail."
"Young men like me who hustled became the sole villain," Jay Z argues in the piece. "In the 1990s, incarceration rates in the U.S. blow up. Today we imprison more people than any other country in the world: China, Russia, Iran, Cuba -- all countries we consider autocratic and oppressive."
And that increase of incarceration has been unfairly felt in minority communities. The rapper adds, "Most states still disproportionately hand out mandatory sentences to black and Latinos with drug cases."
"Then the Feds made distinctions between people who sold powder cocaine and crack cocaine, even though they were the same drug," he explains. "The media ignored actual data 'til this day. Crack is still talked about as a black problem."
In the op-ed, Jay Z also argues the double standard of marijuana felonies, now that the drug is seeing a wave of legalization in states such as Colorado and Washington.
"Former felons can't open a dispensary," he says. "Lots of times, those felonies were drug charges, caught by poor people who sold drugs for a living, but are now prohibited from participating in one of the fastest growing economies."
Watch the full video below for more of Jay Z's take on drug policy in America.