The burgeoning cannabis industry has had its ups and downs over the years. The much loved plant has been demonized and its use, and criminalized for reasons that do not align with public health, public safety, or a truly democratic society. While the United States is not responsible for the global position on cannabis, they are the perpetrators of a so-called war effort that has left a devastating legacy for mostly poor, and Black and Brown communities across the US and far beyond their borders.
Public demand for access to the medicinal and therapeutic plant has pushed ganja into the modern mainstream. Media in the past played a fundamental role in disseminating outright lies about the effects and consumers of cannabis, through racialized nomenclature to targeted police raids brandished across prime time television. It is time to counter this with the truth. The documentary series, The Legacy Project seeks to dismantle the system. Producer, M. Omari Jackson says, “We know people have been affected and we know communities and even countries have been adversely impacted by the failed War on Drugs. The premise for the “outright offensive” in the name of public health and safety against “Enemy Number One”, has only left Black and Brown individuals further disenfranchised, and increased cannabis use.”
Jackson is referring to President Nixon’s declaration in 1963 that the United States was at war within its own borders against the scourge of drug use. Both users and sellers of controlled substances, were to be harshly criminalized and imprisoned. The privatization of the prison system exacerbated this exponentially and has created a system in which it is profitable to put people in prison. The real objective of the War on Drugs was to incarcerate people. This was made clear by a Nixon aide, who stated, “You want to know what this [war on drugs] was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying?
We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.
Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
It is against this backdrop that the war effort was rolled out in to the streets of the United States and across international waters. Particularly near-region nations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Where nations still contend with high crime rates directly correlated to the proliferation of guns to protect the industry lawmakers put in the hands of criminal enterprises. Almost as if working hand in hand.
Production on the Legacy Project is slated to start in March at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna. “We want to capture some of what really happens behind the scenes at these high-level global meetings that literally shape our world and lives. We’ll incorporate both a reality style production with traditional interviews and with notable humans.”
The US leg of production will start in April, where the team hopes to have the resources to set up a prison cell on the conference floor of the highly reputable MJUnpacked conference at the Hard Rock Cafe in New Jersey this April 8th- 10th. “We want to show the stark reality of the industry State governments are making millions of dollars off of, while the pioneers of the industry remain criminalized and incarcerated. I really want to interview some high level CEOs, while they sit on a metallic toilet seat.” Says Jackson.
Through their Fiscal Sponsor partners, the production company, Sovereign City Entertainment can fund the project through tax-deductible donations. The irony of course, is that cannabis companies are heavily taxed, but cannot make deductions due to 280(e) restrictions on a federally illegal activity.
From the cinematic release of Reefer Madness in the 1936, to Just Say No, and the infamous hunger inducing, “This is your brain on drugs” TV ad, media plays a significant role in shaping minds and opinions. The Legacy Project seeks to find out if the truth really matters.
If you’d like to contribute to The Legacy Project fundraising campaign, please visit their website their SIMA Studios page here.