Missing from Maryland’s Legal Marijuana Growers?

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  Missing from Maryland’s Legal Marijuana Growers?

Posted by CN Staff on August 18, 2016 at 05:47:50 PT
By Fenit Nirappil 
Source: Washington Post 

Washington, D.C. -- Maryland set up its legal medical marijuana industry with hopes of racial diversity and equity in spreading profits, but none of the 15 companies cleared this week for potentially lucrative growing licenses are led by African Americans.Some lawmakers and minority-owned prospective marijuana businesses say this is unacceptable in a state where nearly a third of the population is black, the most of any state with a comprehensive legal pot industry. They say the lack of diversity is emblematic of how across the country African Americans are disproportionately locked up when marijuana use is criminalized, and are shut out of the profits when drug sales are legalized.
“We are not going to see this industry flourish in the state of Maryland with no minority participation,” said Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.Glenn was a key player in the legalization battle, and the commission that awards medical marijuana business licenses and oversees the industry is named after her mother, Natalie LaPrade, who died of cancer. She is considering filing a legal injunction to halt the licensing process and is mulling other options such as pushing the commission to award additional licenses to minority-owned companies.The law legalizing medical marijuana says regulators should “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the industry. But the commission did not provide extra weight to applications submitted by minority-owned businesses because of a letter from the attorney general’s office suggesting preferences would be unconstitutional without a history of racial disparities in marijuana licensing to justify the move.A spokeswoman for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission said there will be future opportunities to expand minority participation when the agency awards dispensary licenses and when it considers issuing more cultivation licenses in 2018 if supply doesn’t meet demand. Businesses must also submit annual reports on the racial breakdown of their ownership and workforce, providing a more comprehensive look at the industry’s diversity.“The Commission believes a diverse workforce is in the best interest of the industry,” said Vanessa Lyon, the spokeswoman.But Glenn and other critics say the state hasn’t done enough to ensure diversity in the blossoming business that’s already worth billions nationwide.Several black-owned marijuana applicants were not among the 15 companies granted early approval to grow marijuana for medical use, contingent on those companies passing intensive background checks and facility inspections.The ownership breakdowns of the approved growers is not available, but none of the listed top executives are black. One of the businesses is owned and led by a family of South Asian descent in Frederick County, while women are at the helm of two other ventures.The commission also gave an additional 15 preliminary licenses to process marijuana into medical products, and at least one went to a company led and owned by a group of black medical professionals in Prince George’s County. But entrepreneurs consider processing less profitable than cultivation.Among the rejected African American marijuana entrepreneurs is Darryl Hill, who has broken racial barriers as the first black college football player in the South and as an advocate for minority advancement in businesses from fine dining to green energy.For his latest venture, he eyed Maryland’s medical marijuana industry as an opportunity to recruit a team of minority business people to make it a more equitable market.“This is a brand-new industry where 50 years of experience didn’t come into play and your granddaddy didn’t hand it down to you,” said Hill, a 72-year-old Laurel resident. “But this idea of sharing the largesse didn’t really happen.”The commission did take another kind of diversity into account in awarding growing licenses, approving two lower-scoring prospective cultivators to ensure companies were spread out across the state.“Certainly if geographic diversity is something that we strive for, we should strive to make sure this industry looks like the state of Maryland in terms of its diversity,” said Darrell Carrington, a lobbyist who leads a trade group and helped the group of African American doctors secure a processing license.Del. Christopher R. West (R-Baltimore County), who requested the letter from the attorney general’s office that cast doubt on racial preferences in marijuana licensing, said he sees no discrimination because minority-owned companies scored lower based on objective rankings that took into account proposed businesses’ security measures, horticultural experiences and plans for regulatory compliance, among other factors.“We are supposed to do as much as we can to be a colorblind country,” said West. “If there’s no instance of past discrimination, we shouldn’t start discrimination now.”Diversity in the marijuana industry has emerged as an issue as legalization for medical use has spread to 25 states and the District and recreational sales are permitted in four state. An investigation by BuzzFeed estimates about 1 percent of the nation’s marijuana dispensaries have black owners.Ernst Valery, an African American developer in Baltimore, said he saw the lack of diversity in the marijuana industry as he traveled around the country in preparation to put together an application to open a facility in long-struggling West Baltimore.“We went to Colorado and saw kids who were young white males making money growing pot,” said Valery, whose company did not receive a preliminary license. “Young black men have gone to jail for this thing. Now that population will have no connection to making money off of it legally.”Businesses approved by regulators to grow marijuana do have African Americans in lower-profile roles.In Prince George’s County, a team led by District liquor store owner Josh Genderson includes two high-profile African Americans: Ismael “Vince” Canales, president of the state Fraternal Order of Police, overseeing security, and Donald E. Wilson, the former dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as a scientific adviser.Doug DeLeaver, the first African American leader of several state law enforcement agencies, is in charge of security for Curio Cultivation, but no one on the company’s executive team is black. And Annapolis lobbyist Frank Boston III has a minority stake in the company Green Leaf Medical slated to open in Frederick County, while its scientific advisory board is led by a black doctor.Vicky Ivory-Orem, an African American lawyer and judge in Prince George’s County whose application for a growing license was rejected, says it’s not enough to just have black players in the industry, but that minorities should be in the forefront as well.“What I see in this selection process is the rich getting richer, the politically wealthy remaining wealthy,” said Ivory-Orem, referencing winning applications submitted by major campaign donors and politically connected businesses. “There’s just no opportunity for us.”Source: Washington Post (DC)Author:   Fenit NirappilPublished: August 17, 2016Copyright: 2016 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL: Medical Marijuana Archives 

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Comment #8 posted by observer on August 20, 2016 at 12:16:29 PT
counterpoint to my screed
And here's a succinct counter-argument to my post here, below. Google news decided I must need to see this, because I have a google news search for "DEA and NSA". Is Government the Enemy? this gem, I learn that it must be my fault I don't enjoy the wonderful (gun-laden, coerced and forcible) fruits of government, more. It is the drugs, it is paranoia, I am ignorant, and I am lazy, and it is other moral failings on my part. Certainly no blame may be ascribed to any earthly government. So there.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on August 19, 2016 at 05:30:56 PT
Had Enough
I saw it on the news yesterday! It's true!
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Comment #6 posted by Had Enough on August 18, 2016 at 21:58:34 PT

Hope this is a real deal...
HISTORIC: Obama Announces He’s Ending Private For-Profit Federal Prisons
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on August 18, 2016 at 15:00:56 PT

Wide open capitalism
And competition to be the best at what they offer.Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it? But maybe, I'm wrong. I'll listen. Explain it to me.Everybody that qualified could get a license and try to make it a successful business. Black, white, brown, yellow, red, or purple, they could compete fairly for price, quality and service. Imagine that.
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Comment #3 posted by observer on August 18, 2016 at 14:53:45 PT

Maryland is for Crabs ... and More Gov't
People in Maryland work for the government in huge numbers so they naturally sympathize with more of the same, hence the bureaucratic nightmare that is so much "Maryland" (and D.C., and Virginia, and...). Now, contrast the bureaucratic government-corruption honeypot Maryland marijuana mess, with the (unintentionally) laissez-faire arrangement in the temporary autonomous cannabis zone the District of Colombia has become. D.C. has cannabis farmers markets, even - if reports are to be believed. (Which is always a big "if" with mainstream media reporting.)Which do you think offers a more fair way to grow, buy and sell cannabis: a highly restricted, highly controlled, highly taxed "market" (with attendant socialist and corporatist honeypots) in Maryland, or something closer to a real, actual free market (farmers markets) in D.C.? Guess which one I like best. Laissez-faire. Let it be.Look at the arguments in the article. Where to begin? Look how diverted the herd is, right in the first paragraph.
..."none of the 15 companies cleared this week for potentially lucrative growing licenses are led by African Americans."
Not, hey: the government is causing this mess to begin with by restrictive licensing, creating a corruption, bribery-incentivized honey-pot. Nothing like hey: let's just let people grow it like tomatoes and simply fine them if they sell to kids, like apple cider, or tobacco (grown in Maryland). No, the Washington Post is straight to the race-baiting, attempting to divide and rule like true Machiavellians. Why doesn't the Washington Post point out how much better African-Americans have it in Washington D.C., when government hands are off of the market - without the gun-toting hand of government there to "help". (If the D.C. cannabis farmers markets reports are true...)The "problem" is entirely government-created. Which of course is the whole aim of practical politics, it is said.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
-- H. L. Mencken
re: "There’s just no opportunity for us."Blame corrupted government.Get government out of the process: allow cannabis farmers markets. Opportunity abounds once parasitic Praetorians' and Machiavellian dividers-and-rulers' probosces are detached, and the victim is allowed to recover. We're being robbed blind and sucked dry by government. Few seem to notice.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on August 18, 2016 at 08:22:58 PT

Sorry, OT again:
If you want to increase drug use, criminalize innocent citizens and spawn gargantuan criminal organizations, then by all means declare "war" via Prohibition. The results of Prohibition/War on Drugs are so visibly perverse and so destructive that the entire enterprise is sickeningly Orwellian.The well-paid apologists for Prohibition/War on Drugs claim that imprisoning millions of people "helps" them avoid drugs. If you think being tossed in prison for a few years "helps" people, then step right up and accept a fiver (5-year sentence) in an American prison, which is essentially a factory that produces one product: people damaged by imprisonment, deprived of their full citizenship, hobbled by a felony conviction--ex-con beneficiaries of years of tutorials by hardened criminals.This is as Orwellian as the Vietnam War's famous "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."If you think throwing millions of people in prison "helps" them or society, you are either insane or you're making a living in the gulag or our sick system of "justice". If you don't think America has a "War on Drugs" Gulag, please glance at this chart of Americans in jail and prison--many for drug-related offenses:

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Comment #1 posted by SoupHerb on August 18, 2016 at 06:18:00 PT:

Same ol' same ol'
The cycle continues. Maryland is on a slow boat to china when it comes to Cannabis Rationalization as well.
For the money, by the money, of the money is how my college professor put it...
Under My Thumb- The Rolling Stones
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