Snoop Dogg Speaks Out Against War On Drugs

By Victoria Kim 03/23/17

The superstar rapper spoke about the drug war's impact and mental health treatment in correctional facilities on a recent SXSW panel.  

Snoop Dogg

During a panel discussion at this year’s SXSW conference, rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg shed light on how he narrowly missed landing in the penitentiary right before his career took off.

Snoop had received a joint suspension sentence for selling cocaine, but was let off the hook by a sympathetic probation officer who took into account that the young rapper was trying to go straight. “I went [to county] for those four months, got out, and got a record deal,” said the rapper. “He actually saved my life.”

Weldon Angelos, a friend of Snoop’s and the founder of Extravagant Records, was also a panelist. He recalled being given a 55-year prison sentence in 2004 for selling $900 worth of marijuana, before being released in 2016 thanks to his prosecutor who had a change of heart.

“It wasn’t like he’s a violent man or committed a violent crime,” Snoop said about Angelos. “He was trying to provide a means for his family. He was just hustling.” 

The “Gin and Juice” rapper and occasional crooner also addressed the lack of adequate mental health services in correctional facilities—illustrated by the experience of his younger brother, who was incarcerated at age 17. While in prison, his brother was put on a steady dose of the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine to “treat a couple of mental issues.” 

But the medication didn’t seem to have a healing effect. “We would go to visit him and he would just get slower and slower,” he said. “It just got to a point where he couldn’t even communicate with us anymore.” 

Snoop is using his platform to fight the injustice of the drug war. “I feel like I have a voice and it’s my job to raise awareness,” he said. 

The rapper joins fellow music moguls Jay Z, TI, and John Legend in speaking out against the drug war and raising awareness of its harms, especially on communities of color. 

Some, like Graham Boyd of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander, have gone so far as to call the drug war the “New Jim Crow.” 

To the communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by such policies put in place because of the drug war—such as the 100-to-1 crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity—it’s not such a radical comparison.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr