From the Washington Post:
Black Md. lawmakers push bills to diversify medical marijuana industryOne commenter here regularly suggests that just as American Indians get casinos as a kind of reparations, American blacks should get the legal marijuana business.
By Fenit Nirappil January 27 at 6:07 PM
Leaders of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland have introduced legislation to restructure a burgeoning medical marijuana industry that has come under scrutiny for a lack of racial diversity.
Bills introduced this week would change the membership of the 16-person Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to better reflect the diversity of the state, while requiring the agency to rescore applications for cultivation licenses and give extra weight for black-owned businesses.
Black state lawmakers have criticized marijuana regulators for authorizing cultivation operations led almost entirely by white executives, despite provisions in the 2014 legalization law calling for a diversity among growers. They note that African Americans nationwide have been disproportionately locked up for marijuana offenses, and they say black-owned companies have been underrepresented in the lucrative legal industry.
The attorney general’s office has previously said state officials must demonstrate racial disparities in the medical marijuana industry or similar industries before offering racial preferences in licensing. The cannabis commission is hiring a consultant to advise on whether to conduct such a study.
Democratic legislative leaders have yet to take a position on the new medical marijuana legislation. A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has assigned two top aides to help the black caucus address diversity issues in medical marijuana, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bills.
Sure, prices would be higher and store hours shorter if blacks ran the legal marijuana dispensaries than if they were run by, say, Korean workaholics the way South Central L.A. liquor stores are.
But that would be a good thing.