The following is a press release:
BET announces a new original documentary titled “Smoke: Marijuana + Black America,” set to premiere on Wednesday, November 18th at 10 pm ET/PT. Narrated and executive produced by multi-platinum rapper and entrepreneur, Nasir “Nas” Jones, 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 features testimony from a range of notable individuals including Senator Kamala D. Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Representative Barbara Lee, former NBA player and cannabis investor Al Harrington, WNBA star Cheyenne Parker, former NFL star Ricky Williams, rapper B-Real (Cypress Hill), award-winning music artist Ty Dolla $ign, son of Notorious B.I.G. C.J. Wallace, Columbia University PhD Professor Carl Hart and others.
“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. “SMOKE” features the voices of high-profile lawmakers, including the potential Vice President of the United States Senator Kamala D. Harris, Senator Cory Booker and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who are fighting to bring restorative justice to those incarcerated and others saddled with felony convictions. SMOKE also spotlights the tragic story of Corvain Cooper, a father, who is serving a life sentence for selling marijuana in the same neighborhood where legal dispensaries now operate in the open.
While the legal cannabis industry is expected to generate $30 billion in sales by 2025, only 4.3 percent of dispensaries are currently Black-owned. “SMOKE” spotlights the hypocrisy of the system, highlighting the stories of pioneering African American entrepreneurs across the country, including former NBA player Al Harrington, who are fighting to own a piece of the booming legal cannabis industry currently dominated by white-owned conglomerates and entrepreneurs.
“SMOKE” also dives into the controversy and stories of brave African American athletes, including former NFL star Ricky Williams, and WNBA star Cheyenne Parker, who have risked their careers by openly embracing their use of Cannabis.
“Smoke: Marijuana + Black America” is produced by Swirl Films. Nasir “Nas” Jones, Jason Samuels from BET, and Eric Tomosunas from Swirl Films serve as executive producers. Erik Parker serves as the director for the documentary and Swirl Films’ Tony L. Strickland serves as co-executive producer.
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