In addition to Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike is one of Hip Hop’s most outspoken supporters of the cannabis movement. So it’s only appropriate the Run The Jewels MC drops a new show on Wednesday (April 20), the international weed smoker’s holiday.
Titled Tumbleweeds with Killer Mike, the VICETV x Weedmaps series follows Mike as he travels to four cities crucial to cannabis culture: New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Chicago. There, he visits the local dispensaries, restaurants, shops, speaks with the owners, meets with comedians and more to show how the power of entertainment, cannabis and inclusivity can build community.
Speaking to HipHopDX in a recent phone interview, Mike pinpointed the most surprising thing he learned throughout his journey, which was realizing just how much gambling trumps everything else in Sin City — including weed.
“It is [a weird place], I agree,” he said. “Not even in a bad way, it’s just gambling is the priority there, they’ll legalize marijuana. They’ll legalize prostitution, but they’re going to be heavy rules on how it happens. Marijuana cannot compete with gambling, prostitution cannot compete with gambling, gambling is the preeminent sin. All of the sins are secondary and will be treated as such. So, I found the same feeling there. Like this is cool that I can smoke, but it’s really weird. And that it feels really regulated in a town that was built for gamblers.”
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards were held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3 and anyone attending was forced to walk through wafts of cigarette smoke clinging to the four walls of the casino. Smoking cigarettes indoors is still welcomed, but weed? That’s another story.
“I could smoke a Newport, but I can’t smoke a joint,” Mike continued. “And the guy’s like, ‘Well, smoking a joint, you might get full and want to go back to your room and go to sleep. You’re smoking a cigarette. You’re going to stay here and play the slots all day.’ I’m like, shit, makes a lot of sense to me.”
That was just a tiny fraction of what Killer Mike took away from the show. Whether in Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas or San Francisco, each city had their own specific ways of navigating the cannabis boom.
“lllinois is a state because Chicago is an Illinois and incredibly free, and it felt free and it felt normal,” he said. “Las Vegas, quirky, because you understand nothing’s going compete with gambling. It was a little more restrictive than I had thought. New York, which prides itself on being ultra-progressive and liberal felt very tight. I could buy CBD in a store, but in order to buy marijuana, I’d have to walk outside the store and buy from a dealer on the street. And that was very weird to me.
“It does not seem like that New York is progressive as they aim to be. And I’m hopeful for New York because in their legalization, they’re about to allow people with marijuana convictions to be some of the first people who actually participate in the business. And I’m glad to see that. But what I would like to see in this country is federal decriminalization, legalization of marijuana.”
And there’s been progress in that arena. While recreational marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to federally decriminalize marijuana — but Killer Mike is thinking even bigger.
“I would like to see a federal mandate, that if the marijuana in which is going to be worth billions, if African Americans make up 14 percent in this country, we should make up no less than 14 percent of that industry,” he explained. “Just to be honest, there’s no reason why we can’t make a provision and I say that based on Atlanta’s first Black mayor was a man named Maynard Jackson.
“And Maynard, when became mayor said, ‘If you want to do business with the city of Atlanta as a contractor or otherwise, you’re going to have to have 29 to 30 percent of your company either owned by or participated in with minorities and Black companies in particular. So what you saw was larger companies and developers then start to either subcontract with Black or minority developers or their partner, actual partnerships.”
Killer Mike goes on to say he wants to see “marijuana done right” and especially in minority communities. He added, “We have an opportunity as a voting base, especially on a democratic side, because Black overwhelmingly vote Democrat, to make sure that we have candidates that are going to see that happen or force that to happen from a local level and up or federal level and down. And we need to press the button and do this.
“It’s not enough to simply say, ‘Give us an anti-lynching bill or give us a bill that deals with police harassment and those things,’ which are all important, but it is as important that Black people have an opportunity to control commerce and capital in their communities. And if marijuana is going to be the next boom, much like alcohol was nearly 100 years ago, we need an opportunity to participate from the ownership side from day one and not just the consumer side.”
The Senate bill to federally legalize marijuana was expected to be introduced at the end of April, but the timeline has been pushed back to “sometime before the August recess.”
“We’ll see what happens because the Senate still needs to pass it,” Mike said. “I believe the senators that don’t, it should be made note of; for the senators that don’t vote for, or vote vehemently against wherever we dominate. I meet people with the common sense to know that marijuana should be legalized. Wherever we are in their district, you should make sure they never get an opportunity to hold office again.
“We should make sure that we put people in the is that will agree with the thinking of the people in terms of decriminalization. Those are the people who should be representing us, people with old and antiquated thoughts and ideas about this being some kind of weird ass gateway drug that leads your child into a fucking heroin, being an opiate deal of some sort. They should be forced to go back into the private sector and figure out how to work a real job versus taking the public’s money.”
Tune into Weedmaps’ new original series Tumbleweeds with Killer Mike on VICETV, premiering on Wednesday (April 20) at 10 p.m. ET.