Rap sensation and Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa made waves Wednesday evening after throwing out the first pitch during the Pirates’ final home game at PNC Park.
Controversy in Pittsburgh
Khalifa, a noted cannabis advocate, proudly sported a “Legalize It” T-shirt and pretended to smoke a joint on the pitcher’s mound prior to throwing the ceremonial pitch to home plate before the Pirates took the field against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Pirates were forced to deal with the fallout of Khalifa’s faux-puffs after fans and pundits alike took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the rapper’s controversial message.
Wiz Khalifa threw out the first pitch for the pirates and wore a "legalize it" shirt. Class act
— Yuengling Traditional Lager™️ fan account (@TysonOfOmiPers8) September 28, 2017
Hopefully this is not the family friendly experience/message the @pirates wanted to send the kids at the final home game https://t.co/ar0OnepAdI
— Jeff Verszyla (@Verz) September 28, 2017
However, not everyone shared a similar disdain for Khalifa’s actions. Several Twitter-users chimed in supporting the Pittsburgh native’s progressive views on cannabis legalization.
What’s the big deal? Wiz is an icon for Pitt kids and so many others. He busted his hump in life without hurting one person. #legalizeit
— Marc_412 (@KnightHawk_79) September 28, 2017
It's Wiz Khalifa…what did you expect??
— Larry Hawthorne (@Osufan_71) September 28, 2017
In the wake of the rapper’s actions, the MLB released a statement via e-mail, calling the situation “unfortunate.”
“Marijuana is a probated substance in all of our drug programs and it is unfortunate this situation occurred,” said MLB spokesman Pat Courtney. “The Pirates have informed us that this should not have happened.”
Final Hit: Wiz Khalifa Causes Uproar Over Pretend Joint at Pirates Game
While it does seem like a somewhat odd venue to promote cannabis legalization, the entire ordeal remains somewhat trite. While recreational cannabis isn’t legal in the state of Pennsylvania yet, medical marijuana is, so Khalifa’s message shouldn’t necessarily strike a chord.
There has been, however, several drug-related incidents in the history of the Pirates organization that could have resulted in the overreaction to Khalifa’s invisible joint.
Back in 1985, several Pirates testified before a grand jury about the distribution and usage of cocaine between players at Three Rivers Stadium.
In 2011, team president Frank Coonelly was arrested on four counts of DUI-related misdemeanors and was sentenced to a mandatory program.
Most recently, third baseman Jung Ho Kang was convicted of a third drunk-driving offense in his native South Korea and has been unable to receive a U.S. work visa, thus rendering him incapable of returning to the Pirates this year. He has missed the entire MLB season.
Manager Clint Hurdle and third baseman David Freese have also admitted to alcohol abuse in the past.
Regardless of the organization’s checkered past with substance-abuse, it’s tough to categorize marijuana in the same realm of the aforementioned drugs. Although cannabis is technically under the umbrella of Schedule I substances, while cocaine is considered a Schedule II drug and alcohol is clearly legal, it still remains undoubtedly the safest, and more importantly, the most medically conducive of the three.
If that doesn’t justify Khalifa’s harmless toking motion, we don’t know what does.