Jay-Z has condemned the US government’s drug policy, calling it “an epic fail”.
The rapper’s criticism comes in a short film for the New York Times that assesses the impact of the “war on drugs”.
The film, which was written by Jay Z, looks at the origins of the drug policy and its legacy of racial discrimination.
Speaking of the US’s attitude to drugs in the 80s, Jay Z says: “Drugs were bad, fried your brain, and drug dealers were monsters, the sole reason neighborhoods and major cities were failing. No one wanted to talk about Reaganomics and the ending of social safety nets.”
He also points out the racial disparities involved in drug sentencing and the US’s ballooning prison population.
“Even though white people sold and used crack more than black people, somehow it was black people who went to prison,” he says. Today, meanwhile, marijuana legalization is promising to make venture capitalists with the right connections in the right places rich, even as poor low-level dealers continue to be sent to prison elsewhere.
Jay Z goes on address the more recent positive moves towards drug addiction becoming understood as a health issue and combated with treatment.
He concludes: “Rates of drug use are as high as they were when Nixon declared this so-called war in 1971. Forty-five years later, it’s time to rethink our policies and laws. The War on Drugs is an epic fail.”