Kottonmouth Kings: Blaze of Glory
By Brooke Ellis
The infectiously hip-hop/rock-grooving Kottonmouth Kings are notorious for their carefree, hemp-friendly attitude. Their pro-pot antics may appear frivolous on the surface, but it’s hardly a gimmick. The guys proudly risk persecution by consistently involving themselves in the politics of marijuana law reform. With 1.5 million concert tickets sold around the world, they effectively spread awareness about the 420 cause. In a noble gesture, the group has donated a percentage of profits from the sale of their latest CD ,The Green Album, to various charities. They were named “Band of the Year” in 2006 by High Times and have sold 2 million records through independent label Suburban Noize — not an easy task in the age of digital piracy. They often headline and serve as judges at the annual Cannabis Cup and are heroes in the underground 420 musical movement of which they are true pioneers. The group’s co-founder, Brad “Daddy” X, always the outspoken Marijuana activist, shares his thoughts on the cause with CULTURE.
Being a high-profile 420 endorsee, do you ever find yourselves targeted by conservatives?
Yeah, we’ve had our bus raided, all that kind of stuff throughout the years. It depends where you are in the country, really. You go to some spots down South where you can get a year for a joint; you just got to know the territories you’re traveling in and take the proper precautions. We’re high visibility, we’re on the forefront, speaking about legalization and promoting the subculture. We just know that we’re a target.
The Kings sponsor many a cause, foremost that of the decriminalization of marijuana. Not just lyrically, you actually get involved.
We always have. We all personally feel that every individual should have the freedom of choice to decide whether they’re going to involve marijuana into their lives. I don’t think that the choices should be made by the police or some government agency. It’s a personal choice. When people start trying to legislate morality it becomes really tricky. I believe people should have the freedom to make that decision and not have somebody make it for them. Definitely not throw someone in jail, tear them away from their family, and ruin their lives because they want to smoke a little marijuana. Maybe that gets them through stress or maybe they enjoy it as much as someone might enjoy a Jack and Coke or a drink after work. It’s personal preference.
Do you feel there’s a bit of hypocrisy in the laws governing the use of cannabis?
You could look at the legal drug business in America, the pharmaceutical billion-dollar business that has so many people hooked on legal drugs. We can talk about the common-sense argument between alcohol and marijuana. Alcohol loses by a landslide every time. The amount of deaths related! But we’re moving forward: We’ve made a lot of large strides towards the sensibility around the subject, especially in California where you have medicinal marijuana. Massachusetts has announced it’s no longer illegal for a person to carry small amounts for personal use. I think we’re moving to an area where there’s a lot more tolerance.
I would just like to see it decriminalized for personal consumption. I’m sick of seeing people persecuted and having their lives ruined! Piss tests — all the things you gotta’ do — like spend time in jail for a personal choice that doesn’t hurt anybody. We’ve made huge advances, but it’s a little confusing to me that if you want to plant a seed and grow a plant – why should anybody have a problem with that???What effect do you think the new administration will have in the world of cannabis legislation?
I think Obama realizes it’s such a big political risk to come out and say that [legalizing cannabis] would be good for the economy. How could millions of dollars not help the economy in tax revenue? Of course it could help! I really like Obama — he’s got a lot of really progressive ideas. It was one of the proudest times I felt as an American when he got inaugurated. It was a huge step forward for us as Americans. He’s still a politician, he still has to play political chess — especially right now when all eyes are upon him. It’s risky for him to come out with decriminalization and all that. But I think the will of the people will overcome all that. Hopefully.
Do you have a medical-cannabis card?
Yes, I do. I got it for stress. It’s what I put down. For the most part I got it for personal protection. It’s an insurance policy. Don’t get me wrong: There are absolutely a lot of legitimate people who are suffering from cancer or glaucoma or whatever it might be. It’s definitely used as medicine, but I think a large portion of 215 holders have it as an insurance policy. People may want to deny that, but that’s the reality of it. That’s the truth.
Although cannabis has been properly represented with organizations like NORML, do you feel there is still an unfair image associated with its use?
The thing is there’s so many people who are upstanding citizens, whether they become construction workers, doctors, lawyers — just people who enjoy coming home from work and smoking a little herb that maybe aren’t to the extreme of some of the advocates. The bottom line is, a lot of those people respect their right to privacy and don’t want to announce it or put it out in a public forum. In my experience, pot smokers are your everyday people, contributing members to society — not just the degenerate stoners sitting on the couch watching TV and playing video games all day.
How can your fans make a difference in influencing cannabis legislation?
I would say that when there’s an initiative or a bill, to get out and vote for it. We promote all of that through NORML and the Cannabis Action Network. We’ve done all kinds of things in different states every time there’s an election to promote the awareness of all the initiatives and bills that promote decriminalizing and medicinal marijuana. We always put up links on our website, play shows, do radio shows — all we can do to raise awareness and motivate people to get out and try to make a change.