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Review: BET Doc “Smoke: Marijuana and Black America”




I am a baby boomer and old school.  I grew up thinking that smoking pot led to an addiction to worse drugs.  I certainly had judgment about marijuana use and users regardless of whether it is legal.

BET presents a two-hour documentary, “Smoke:  Marijuana and Black America” on November 18 at 10 pm ET/PT.

It will be available on BET Now App and on demand starting 11/19.

Nas narrates and executive produces.

“SMOKE” Features Sit-Down Interviews with Vice Presidential Elect Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Former NBA Player Al Harrington, Rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill, Singer/Producer Ty Dolla $ign, Son of Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans C.J. Wallace, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Representative Barbara Lee, WNBA Star Cheyenne Parker, Former NFL Player Ricky Williams and more.

[the two-hour special examines marijuana’s cultural, social, economic and legal impact on American society and the Black community. Told through the lens of aficionados, policymakers, advocates and innovators in the booming legal cannabis industry. . .”.

““SMOKE” traces the fascinating and complex legacy of marijuana in the Black community. Early usage was recreational in nature, but political and racial dynamics led to the criminalization of cannabis and eventually its prohibition. America’s unjust war on drugs systematically targeted marijuana use in the Black community, resulting in racially disproportionate numbers of arrests and convictions. ”

For me, like most documentaries, SMOKE, is educational and current.  It has election information on our President-elect and Vice President-elect as well as four states that legalized marijuana during the 11/3/2020 election:  New Jersey, Montana, Arizona, and South Dakota.

I remember when President Bill Clinton famously said that he didn’t inhale, but did not recall but was informed by the doc, that President Obama said:  “I inhaled, that was the point.”

I didn’t know as the doc points out that 85% of the drug arrests are Black folks, 11 states have legalized marijuana, and Blacks are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana conviction than any other racial group.

I was also unaware of the social equity and restorative justice implications of the legalization of marijuana and the cannabis business.

Black folks only own 4% of the cannabis industry, Brown folks, 7%.  Less than 1% of the licenses go to Black and Brown folks.

Wanda James of says:  “I would rather have a joint than a glass of wine.”

I highly recommend SMOKE, especially if you like me, did not understand the medical uses of marijuana and social equity and restorative justice implications.




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