D.C. City Council votes to use racial preferences to distribute marijuana business licenses

D.C. City Council votes to use racial preferences to distribute marijuana business licenses

D.C. City Council votes to use racial preferences to distribute marijuana business licenses

Just for a minute, imagine this scene at the D.C. City Council meeting:

“You know, we really need to encourage more of our black population to get involved in small business.”

“You’re right, great idea.”

“But what can we do?”

“Hmm, let me think.”

“What are they good at?”

“Well, holding up liquor stores, jacking cars, defrauding welfare, having babies, adapting to the prison system…selling drugs and smoking blunts! –Hey, we have those medical marijuana business licenses!”

“Yeah, so?”

“Did you notice how many whiteys have them compared to the blacks – it’s 12 to 1. And bonus, the blacks already have good business sense for that trade. It’s a win-win!”

No, I don’t know if that really happened, but you tell me how someone comes up with the idea to implement racial preferences for a business license in the medical marijuana industry? What possible legitimate reason would make someone connect a license to sell drugs to a policy promoting a stereotype?

Apparently I am not too far off in pinpointing the motivation for this – it’s all twistedly racial. It goes like this: Since blacks have been locked up disproportionately for drug crimes, they have suffered unfairly for something that is now “legal.” Because of their convictions, they cannot benefit from the now legal drug trade. How discriminatory!! Liberals must even the playing field on this one. Can’t let all those whiteys take away their livelihood.

It’s the latest jurisdiction [D.C.] to join a growing nationwide effort to make sure minorities can profit from legal marijuana sales after decades of being disproportionately prosecuted for using and selling the drug.

“We at the D.C. government have an obligation to make sure that minorities and local small businesses can get in on the ground floor and secure a piece of this foundation,” said Council member Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large), who sponsored the legislation that passed Tuesday.

“We have locked up so many black people for marijuana, and I see it as in­cred­ibly hypocritical for those folks to return from prison on marijuana charges just to come back to a place that has now legalized and industrialized it, and they can’t play any role.”

The emergency bill to give minority-owned businesses extra weight on their applications comes as the District is preparing to award a permit to open a dispensary in the overwhelmingly black neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

If there’s one thing minority communities don’t need it’s encouragement to become even more dependent on the government. But hey, that’s what Liberals do. Search high and low, not for ways to help poor communities, but ways to keep them poor. Promoting drug use, through a legal avenue is right in their wheelhouse. Everyone knows that medical marijuana is a joke. Yes, some people benefit from it, and I am fine with that, but getting a prescription isn’t too hard to come by.

D.C. is not the first jurisdiction to seek out preferences for minority marijuana business owners. This is not simply an encouragement of minorities to own businesses – it is specifically for those who have been convicted of drug crimes to be able to enter this business.

In neighboring Maryland, criticism over the lack of black-owned businesses authorized to grow medical marijuana has threatened to hobble the program.

Legislation to award additional licenses to minorities failed in a dramatic end to the 2017 legislative session. Meanwhile, a lawsuit alleging Maryland marijuana regulators broke the law because they declined to consider diversity will be heard by the state’s highest court in July.

Other states, including Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida, have taken steps to give preferences to prospective minority marijuana entrepreneurs.

The city of Oakland, Calif., has gone further in specifically setting aside half of its cannabis business permits for people arrested for drug crimes in the city or who come from neighborhoods with many drug arrests.

Let’s for a moment allow that growing and selling medical marijuana is a legitimate enterprise. As a legitimate business, it should be fine for most people to enter into the trade. Many current laws prevent drug offenders from entering the business. That is the source of the disparity. If government officials think that drug convictions should no longer bar people from entering the trade, then simply remove that restriction. But don’t do it on a racial basis. Treat these licenses like any other license – have a set of objective criteria and stick to it for everyone.

But African Americans seeking to go into business as growers or retailers face a host of hurdles, researchers say. Many states bar convicted drug felons from the industry, disproportionately hurting minorities because of historically higher conviction rates. Others have set high investment requirements. Some dole out licenses through appointed commissions that industry researchers say reward the politically connected, who by and large are wealthy and white.

“Marijuana legalization without racial justice risks being an extension of white privilege,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist for Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for drug policy reforms.

Maryland has been named in a lawsuit for denying cultivator licenses disproportionately to black applicants. No reason has been disclosed for the denials. If the denials are based on race, then certainly Maryland is in the wrong.

Darryl Hill, hailed for integrating college football in his youth half a century ago, was a successful entrepreneur with no criminal record and plenty of capital when he applied for a license to grow marijuana in Maryland — a perfect candidate, or so he thought, to enter a wide-open industry that was supposed to take racial diversity into account.

To his dismay, Hill was shut out on his first attempt. So were at least a dozen other African American applicants for Maryland licenses. They were not told why.

….

“Here’s a drug that for years has been the bane of the minority community, sending young people to jail by the boatloads,” Hill said. “Now, it could be a boon to these communities, but minorities have been left out.”

So that’s the part where I take issue. These communities where young people get sent to jail for drug offenses aren’t being served by drug trafficking! A boon to the communities? That is disgusting to me. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.

Entrepreneurship is about finding a need and filling it, but I cannot get on board with promoting drug use in communities where it has wrought such destruction. Perhaps we are going the way where recreational use of marijuana will become de rigueur, but we certainly don’t have to push it onto vulnerable populations.

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4 Comments
  • GWB says:

    Everyone knows that medical marijuana is a joke. … getting a prescription isn’t too hard to come by.

    It’s not the medical marijuana itself that is the joke. It’s the administration of the system. The real problem being that it’s hard to bureaucratically regulate something that people can grow in a 4×4 plot in their backyard or on their apartment balcony. But gov’t gotta regulate.

    The city of Oakland, Calif., has gone further in specifically setting aside half of its cannabis business permits for people arrested for drug crimes in the city or who come from neighborhoods with many drug arrests.

    So… they’ve specifically set aside some licenses for people who are obviously going to use them to peddle illegal narcotics? (Recreational marijuana is not yet legal in CA.)

    To his dismay, Hill was shut out on his first attempt. So were at least a dozen other African American applicants for Maryland licenses.

    Annnnnnnd? Because unless you know how many to what sorts of people were awarded, and the “sorts” of all the people who were rejected, the information provided is absolutely relevant to nothing.

    I’m meh on the drug war as it’s currently fought. I don’t like drugs. But I think freedom is more important. However, so is responsibility.
    Get back to me on it once you’ve solved the hundreds of murders in Chicago and the like, and you’ve otherwise stopped the slide of our country into totalitarianism.

    • Jenny North says:

      “Get back to me on it once you’ve solved the hundreds of murders in Chicago and the like, and you’ve otherwise stopped the slide of our country into totalitarianism.”

      GWB, I never know whether you are talking to me or just throwing criticism out there generally? I don’t like drugs either, but I am mostly to-each-his-own in my outlook. However, the arguments to support legalization that claim drugs aren’t dangerous are just wrong. Nobody is honest about it.

      This post was really about the bigotry of low expectations and how that perpetuates stagnation and despair and cultural stereotypes.

      • GWB says:

        No, that comment was in general to all the folks hard over on fighting the “drug war”. Some of them are a bit… loose with the idea of civil liberties when it comes to the “drug war”.

        You wrote a decent post. I concur with your point. (SMH at the giving of licenses to convicted drug dealers.)

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