The former drug king pin who built a Crack empire worth close to $1 billion, Freeway Rick Ross, is using his well-known status to speak out about the Opioid crisis and injustices in the legal system.

Freeway Rick Ross, not to be confused with the rapper Rick Ross, who Freeway claims stole his persona, was selling between $1 million to $3 million worth of drugs before his most recent arrested in 1996.

He was originally sentenced to life in prison, but the sentence was reduced to 20 years. While in prison, he educated himself, that way when he got out, he would be able to lead a legitimate life. In 2009 Ross was released from prison, since then he was been a part of multiple documentaries including Aljazeera’s Freeway: Cracks in the System

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter Ross opened up about the Opioid epidemic “With the Crack epidemic, it was young black males. Here, it’s young white guys selling opiates.”

Ross does recognize the difference between how The Crack epidemic in the 80s was treated compared to the Opioid epidemic, but he doesn’t think it is racially motivated.

“I hope the reason they’re treating it differently now than with crack is not because there’s white kids being addicted, but more so because they’ve gotten wiser and understand that drug [addiction] is more of a sickness,” he said. “They didn’t do anything like bringing in doctors, who are now being put in the community strictly to assist people hooked on opioids.”

Establishing detox centers and rehabs such as Drug Rehab San Jose is only one of the things being down that points to the evolution of understanding that addiction is a disease.

Drug Rehab San Jose helps many cities in the Bay Area
Drug Rehab San Jose helps many cities in the Bay Area

While the same measures were not taken during the Crack epidemic, as Ross pointed out, there are measures being taken now to help curb some of the damage done.

California has added legislation that has taken way the difference in the mandatory minimums between Crack and Cocaine.

Ross told THR about a young man he was in jail with “One guy had been in prison since he was 19, [for possessing] like 2 ounces of crack when he was 19.”

This legislation will help to make the sentences fairer.

“Whether sold as crack or powder, used on the street or in a corporate penthouse, the penalty for cocaine use should be the same for everybody,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, who wrote and introduced the bill. “My bill establishes fairness in sentencing.”