by Ashley Kennedy

As the sun sets on a painted Louisiana sky, I make my way to the Howling Wolf—the New Orleans club where the Kottonmouth Kings are laying tonight—with a tray containing 50 ganja crawfish pies. Their road manager, Yanni, leads me through the band’s crowded tour bus, past a dozen green-curtained sleeping bunks to the stateroom in back where the band is casually sprawled, getting stoned as expected. Pakelika is manning the vaporizer with Zen-like clarity and reverence. Unmasked and shorn of his trademark mane, he nods a greeting, never breaking the rhythm of his inhalation.

Pakelika, known as the band’s Visual Assassin, is arguably the Kottonmouth Kings’ biggest stoner. He smokes six joints and blunts per night onstage. The rest of the band members—rappers Brad (Daddy) X, D-Loc and Johnny Richter, DJ Bobby B, drummer Lou Dog and singer Taxman—inhale copious amounts of THC as well.

“What’s that?” D-Loc asks, leaning forward to view the overflowing tray suspiciously.

“Ganja crawfish pies,” I reply. The room erupts in skeptical amusement. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” D-Loc laughs. “They look like little quiches, bro.”

“That’s crazy,” Daddy X interjects, leaning in to take one. “Hey, Bobby—have a ganja crawfish pie.” Half the bus is summoned to partake as I explain the dosage and strain.

D-Loc is still eyeing the pies inquisitively. “Crawfish and crawdads are the same thing, right?” he asks. “We used to catch those in buckets down at the creek. So what do you do? You, like, peel them and get the meat out of there?”

“You grab the tail and pull them apart at the thorax, bite the tail and pull,” my friend Spaz explains.

“And you suck the head,” I add.

“You suck the head?” D-Loc says incredulously. “Can’t you just cut the head off?”

“That’s where all the fat and juices are,” I say defensively. “Oh, man—that’s fucking barbaric!” D-Loc shudders with revulsion. “Hey, look at Johnny Richter’s watch and tell me what time it is.”

Richter offers his bare forearm for my perusal as a wave of THC crashes behind my eyeballs. I’m slow at getting the joke. I hesitate, confused, until he points to a Dali-esque tattoo of a watch. It reads 4:20.

“See those?” Richter says, pointing to Bobby B’s fresh shell-toed Adidas. “You want some hip-hop history? Ask Bobby about his collection.”

“I have 76 pairs—every style, every color ever made,” Bobby boasts. “I’ve been collecting them since I was 12. The pair in that box over there, I can’t even show you. They’re so top-secret that they’re not even out yet.”

“He could show you, but we’d have to kill you,” D-Loc smirks.

“We were sponsored by Adidas for a while, but I guess they didn’t like the fact that we support the whole weed cause,” Daddy X says, rolling his eyes at the ridiculousness of the concept. Adidas used to make hemp sneakers, after all.

“Our approach to smoking weed was never really a political thing,” he adds. “It was about partying. It was about the earth. And as you go around and you see people get busted, well, to me it’s a human-rights violation when people get arrested for this plant that grows naturally. I mean, we’ve got kids going overseas with guns in their hands to die in a war, yet you can still be thrown in jail for a plant. It just makes no sense. For us, this is all about personal freedom.”

I turn my attention back to Richter. “I love smoking weed and I love music,” he says. “It’s really all about the music. But then, you know, you get busted a couple of times, and you start seeing people get busted and meeting kids who have been through that, and as you get older, you start paying more attention to it and become more aware of what’s going on. So we just started writing about things that happened to us and that we care about.”

I ask Pakelika, who rarely speaks in public, what he thinks about the state of drug-policy reform. For no apparent reason, Pakelika points to a tiny model low-rider, complete with hydraulics, that’s sitting next to the vaporizer.

“You want a ganja crawfish pie, bro?” D-Loc asks Lou Dog.

“Are you serious, man? Oh God, no,” he says.

“Dude, I’ve been slamming daiquiris like they were Slurpees. No way.