Henry Rollins Dishes On Medical Marijuana, Drug War

By Keri Blakinger 05/15/17

Rollins opened up about his position on medical marijuana and the racial disparity of the drug war in a new interview.

Henry Rollins

Famously drug-free hardcore punk musician Henry Rollins has morphed into an unexpected advocate for marijuana legalization and—as he told Rolling Stone last week—possibly a future toker. 

Though he only tried pot one time—more than 30 years ago—the former Black Flag singer found himself attracted to the marijuana movement as a civil rights issue. 

“Marijuana gets brown and black and poor people thrown in jail, and when those people are in prison, someone makes a lot of money off of everything from toilet flushes to every meal,” he said. “And that's all from the taxpayer. And you can stuff prisons with nonviolent criminals.”

But the possibility of a surge in tax dollars from legalized cannabis may be influencing states as they rethink pot policy. 

“This is going to be a multi-billion dollar business by 2020,” he said. “Now the states really have to give this a big think. They can't afford not to.”

Though he’s not making money off the burgeoning bud industry, if he were hawking greenery, Rollins said he’d target his own dad as the ideal customer.

“I'm sure he thinks if you inhaled cannabis you would turn gay and the empire would crumble,” he said. “I have no idea where he lives or how he's living, but what if he had arthritis? And cannabis could help reduce swelling and pain. Maybe it helps him sleep; maybe it helps him with his appetite. What I'm basically detailing is many of the upsides of the medical application of cannabis.”

But whether or not Rollins’ dad catches onto the leafy sea change, the singer is optimistic that progressive pot policies bode well for society as a whole.

“I think going forward, racists and homophobes and misogynists, I think they're gonna start losing membership,” he said. “And I'd love to see that. Because people can be better. Cannabis is part of that. It's not all of it, but it's definitely part of it. It's part of forward movement and social evolution. We've come a long way from Reefer Madness.”

Now 56, Rollins admitted that he’s starting to feel the aches and pains of aging. But he’s not turning to medical marijuana as a solution—at least not just yet.

“I don't wanna until the day I do wanna. And on the day I do, I don't wanna get a dealer; I don't wanna sneak around,” he said. 

“I don't wanna have illegal stuff in my house. I just wanna go to the store and buy it. Groceries, cannabis, gas up the car and go home. I just want it to be part of my errands. For now, aspirin works fine.”

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.