Saturday, February 16, 2019

Invitation To Failure

If you believe that "slavery and the scaffolding of white supremacy" are unrelated to marijuana, you know one more thing than Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) apparently does. Huffington Post reports that the media darling

 made her comments during a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing this week on banking services for the burgeoning cannabis industry as more states legalize the sale and use of marijuana.

She suggested the growing industry was “compounding the racial wealth gap”  by allowing wealthy white-dominated companies to gain a quick advantage in the industry. She complained that communities most affected by drug incarcerations are the “last in the door” when it comes to profiting now from legalized cannabis.

The nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance praised her position. “We must legalize marijuana in a way that recognizes and repairs the disastrous, disproportionate harms of the drug war ... on people of color,” the organization tweeted after the hearing.

Ocasio-Cortez cited statistics from Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal for recreational use, that 73 percent of cannabis business executives are male and 81 percent are white.

The State of Washington is not 50% non-hispanic white, and neither is Colorado. Colorado is a mere 29.6% % black, Hispanic, Asian, "mixed," or "other" while Washington is 70.4% non-Hispanic white. And for reasons of history, culture, and/or politics, most business executives in the USA are male and most are white. 

Beginning at 4:00 and resuming  at 4:44 of the video below, the freshman (freshwoman, or fresh person) Representative rhetorically comments

And so, so, you see what this really looks like is it's kind of coming to big picture that the folks who profited off for-profit incarceration get to profit off the legalization of marijuana first while the communities most impacted are last in the door....

So would you recommend that in us kind of opening this lane that also be paired with kind of affirmative licensing laws that prioritize front-line communities and communities that were most impacted to get them licenses first so that they can reap the benefits or recouping some segments of cost that they have bared in the 90s on the War on Drugs?

The very agreeable witness was Corey Barnette, described here as the "founder and Chief Executive Officer of District Growers, LLC, a full service grower and producer of cannabis, cannabis concentrates and cannabis-infused edible products." You should not be surprised that Mr. Barnette is neither a scientist nor medical researcher, nor a down-on-his luck ex-con who needs a leg up to rebuild a life shattered by the War on Drugs. Prior to becoming very successful in 

the medical cannabis industry, Mr. Barnette owned and operated businesses in a number of different industries across several states, including but not limited to automotive manufacturing, pharmaceutical testing, sports and entertainment, and transportation industries. For example, Mr. Barnette owned and operated Primary Physicians Research, a clinical trials service provider of drug testing services to large pharmaceutical companies. From 2001 to 2004, he served as a Vice President of the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, an emerging market venture capital firm investing in start-up and early-stage businesses in 28 different emerging market countries. From 1997 to 2000, he serves as an investment banker with NationsBanc Montgomery Securites.

As the day of legalization of recreational marijuana, possibly nationally and more likely in several states, draws near, the challenge should not be to ensure that vast profits are made as the public is swindled and manipulated by wealthy minorities and private equity firms headed by minorities.

Purchasers must not be exploited, period. That should apply whatever the race or gender of the businessperson and whatever the race or gender of the chief executive officer of the individual(s) fronting for the group.

That is not, however, the thrust of Ocasio-Cortez's spoken concern. She is not suggesting that individuals who have been disadvantaged by disproportionate inequities in policing or the criminal justice system be given particular consideration. She is recommending that privilege be conveyed upon individuals (or companies) notwithstanding whatever hurdles- or not- they themselves have had to overcome.

Recreational marijuana, as with medical marijuana, is no ordinary business. The regulations which must be imposed in order to protect both consumers and the general public, and to maintain public support for legalization, are nearly unmatched in American commerce. So, too, are the opportunites for exorbitant profits, which are likely to attract a proliferation of hucksters (though Barnette has not been among them).

State officials must establish strict guidelines. Local agencies and boards will have to consider the motivation of entrepreneurs and numerous details, including but not limited to safety and security, location relative to schools and neighborhoods, and age of consumer. Philosophical issues aside, there is too much at stake to overlook critical factors in favor of skin color and biological makeup.

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