Before marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington, I had written and recorded a song with my band, Knight Blade, called "I Got That Weed." The goal of the song was not to glamorize or promote marijuana, but to make it socially acceptable, and help with the legalization efforts. Hopefully the song will become an anthem for the growing marijuana legalization movement, much like "Same Love" by Ryan Lewis and Macklemore has done for the gay rights movement.
Five years ago, I wrote a blog called Legalize Weed, Stimulate The Economy and many of the reasons I pointed out led to the legalization of marijuana in the pioneer states of Colorado and Washington.
I also believe that national legalization of marijuana would become of great benefit to the African-American community. While African Americans use marijuana at a lesser rate than white Americans, Black people get arrested at more than three times the rate of white people in the U.S. for marijuana possession. In our nation's capital and New York City, the rate is more than ten to one. The racist enforcement of marijuana laws not only ads to the already high disparity of African Americans in prison, but also prevents many African Americans from getting employment or higher education due to their arrest records.
Watch: Knight Blade "I Got That Weed"
My reasons for encouraging marijuana legalization are personal as well. When I was working as teacher in the Bronx, I was arrested an put in jail for 30 hours for buying $30 worth of marijuana. Initially I was scared to go to central booking, fearing I would be left in a cell with violent criminals, but I quickly found out that most of the people arrested were young men like myself who were arrested for small amounts of marijuana or other small offenses. Due to my arrest, I was branded a criminal who was not allowed to work with my own students, and had to resign my position and become a journalist.
President Barack Obama stated recently that the effects of marijuana are no worse than that of alcohol. I would take his statement a step further and say that the effects of alcohol are far worse than those of marijuana. As some one who has been around a good deal of both booze and weed in my life, I can say that I've seen way more fights, car accidents, domestic violence incidents and other harmful accidents that had negative impacts on people's lives caused my alcohol than marijuana.
Another myth about marijuana is that it makes people slow and lazy and reduces intelligence and brain power. I have smoked marijuana with highly respected doctors, lawyers, government, officials, high school principals, founders of successful start up companies and Pulitzer Prize wining authors. While I can't recommend marijuana for everyone, as a child who was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and social anxiety it has helped me both socially and mentally to go on to graduate from Columbia University on the Dean's List, become a teacher who has impacted many students' lives in a positive way and a journalist who was invited to the White House on several occasions, and was one of a select group of writers present when President Obama placed the wreath at Ground Zero after the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
So, "I Got That Weed." It might not be right for you but, if it is, there should be no reason you are arrested or publicly shamed for what you do in private or even in public. Marijuana needs to be legalized not only at the state levels, but at the national level, and the stigma of it being a harmful, negative drug needs to be taken away.