If you've been paying attention to national news reports or reading gossip blogs or websites over the last couple of weeks, you've probably seen the headline regarding rapper Wiz Khalifa's recent -- and repeated -- run-ins with the law. If you happen to follow Wiz Khalifa's Twitter or Instagram, you're probably not shocked that the 24-year old Philly native was allegedly caught twice within 11 days, in two different states, with marijuana. That's right, twice in like a week.
Our sister publication Miami New Timesfirst reported on Khalifa's arrest when the news hit on Wednesday. Khalifa and his crew were initially caught, according to reports, hot-boxing a hotel room at a Holiday Inn in Tennessee when other guests, who we can only guess were of a square nature, complained about the funny smell and contacted police. Um, doesn't this sound a lot like Chingy's 2004 party-anthem "Holiday Inn" at this point? The event occurred on April 21, the day after the national high-holiday 4/20, might we add. Khalifa was slapped with a citation for the less than five grams and roach he had had on him, which police discovered after Khalifa flicked it out the window, according to The Tennessean.
His second run-in with the law resulted in an arrest before a show in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on May 1. This catch-and-release was over before the bowl was even cashed, so to speak, but the rapper is required to appear in court at the end of July.
The star's big hit "Black and Yellow" back in 2010 brought him to the forefront of popular hip-hop sound and launched the star into the commercial stratosphere of stoner ballads and party jams, while still maintaining some street cred. His most recent mixtape, titled "Taylor Alderdice" after his hometown almamater, was dropped in March of this year, has been getting a lot of attention because it deviates quite a bit from the rapper's expected rhymes and beats.
Fans have seen quite the physical transformation from the former inner-city, heavily tattooed skater dude from down the block into a self-recognized fashion ode to the irreplaceable Jimi Hendrix, featuring American Flag vintage-esque striped skinny jeans, hipster Thoms, fedoras and many, many patterned scarves. A little Steven Tyler-esque, too, absolutely. His style has definitely changed, but whether or not Khalifa has "sold out" or not is subjective, and a completely different conversation entirely.
That being said, Wiz's notorious affiliation and admiration for marijuana is impossible to not note. The majority of his songs, including "In Tha Cut," have a common theme: that magical super sweet sticky green plant.
Khalifa has reportedly admitted spending up to $10,000/month funding his good time, but let's be real -- we're mad because we're jealous. Who wouldn't spend that much money on their favorite pastime if they could? You can't hate on Wiz for being Wiz, and what's wrong with smoking some green when there are gobs and gobs of gangster rappers in and out of prison for things like gun charges, see Atlanta's T.I. and Young Jeezy, assault and battery like Mystikal, who was released earlier this year and has still managed to get on almost every relevant hip-hop mixtape and album. There's Lil Boosie who is serving eight years after pleading guilty to some serious drug charges brought about during his 2010 indictment for first degree murder. Wiz's charges are sweet, and revolve only around his one true love. No, we're not talking about Amber Rose, it's another lady though, and her name is Mary Jane.
What's most troubling to us about Wiz's arrest is when we think about the cost to us, as taxpayers, whose tax dollars are spent on arresting, housing, and funding the legal costs of the seriously antiquated war on drugs.
According to a NORML.org report marijuana related arrests cost the following:
State and local justice costs for marijuana arrests are now estimated to be $7.6 billion, approximately $10,400 per arrest. Of this total, annual police costs are $3.7 billion, judicial/legal costs are $853 million, and correctional costs are $3.1 billion. In both California and New York, state fiscal costs dedicated to criminal marijuana law enforcement annually total over $1 billion for each state.
Did anyone else take a take a deep breath, and not from the joint they're smoking, and gasp at this number? Over ten-thousand dollars is spent per arrest, per person, which includes misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession and lesser charges for paraphernalia and the like. This indicates that anyone, anywhere who is caught with any amount of marijuana is a criminal. Smoking weed is a habit hardly problematic compared to the abuse of other highly addictive narcotics that are legal, made easily available, are bought, sold, stolen, and result in unimaginable crimes.
How easy is it to score Oxycontin, say, a Schedule II drug -- which by the way includes drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, and other dangerously addictive drugs? Not very. So many have checked in or been forced into rehab because of a Schedule II drug addiction. It's certainly easier to lose your life from overdoing on pills than indo. Not many have taken one too many bong rips and ended up 6-feet-under.
Stoners may crave bizarre snacks like Cheetos and chocolate milk, or ask you to drive them to Taco Bell at 1 a.m., but potheads typically won't steal your wallet, sell their bodies for drugs. Point is, the harsh criminalization of marijuana is uncool, man, entirely.
The debate on whether or not to legalize, decriminalize, or regulate the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes isn't a new one. It's gained attention as more states, politicians, and users of the Schedule I drug assert its effectiveness in helping alleviate pain associated with a number of chronic health problems such as AIDS, glaucoma, and chronic pain.
Marijuana was legally taxed and distributed in the United States up until the 1930s, when laws like the Marihuana Act of 1937 were enacted, spawning several additions and amendments to state and federal laws regarding "poisons." This act more or less started the criminalization of the drug. With social values shifting following WWII, the outlawing of marijuana was on a steady climb, based on nothing more than politics. The government couldn't come up with an easy enough way to tax marijuana, which is fair enough, but instead of investing the time to figure it out, it was outlawed altogether. A number of states adopted their own marijuana laws, most notably those in California and Colorado.
What is different and should most definitely be mentioned about Khalifa's arrests and his personal use of marijuana is that it is recreational. It demonstrates that marijuana isn't going anywhere, which is something the FDA, DEA, and pretty much every other regulatory organization refuses to acknowledge. From national acceptance and marijuana usage in the early 1900s to the Hippies of the '60s, to the parents, professionals, grandparents, and grandchildren of today, it's irresponsible and most of all ridiculously expensive to maintain the criminalization of the use of or possession of marijuana.
There's nothing innately glamourous about smoking no matter what Wiz and his his stage-mate last night at SunFest Snoop Dogg might indicate. But let's still talk about pot and the decriminalization or legalization of this sticky green substance, not just punish those who smoke it or have a bit in their Holiday Inn hotel room. Wiz Khalifa, who knew you getting stoned as fuck in Tennessee would lead to such platform for the debate?
So, Wiz, keep cheifing. Don't let the haters harsh your mellow.
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE...
Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.