By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) There is no more “progressive” Democratic state than California, and no more “progressive” Democratic cities than Los Angeles and San Francisco, but even in those deep blue enclaves, blacks and Latinos who want to open their own marijuana shops are calling out city officials as ‘racists.’
According to The Guardian, blacks and Latinos who were eager to get into the pot business after the state legalized recreational use have been stymied by city officials who seem more receptive to white business license applicants than those of minorities.
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The news site reports that of the dozens and dozens of current applicants, less than one-fifth are black or Hispanic. What’s more, blacks are complaining that after decades of being prosecuted for then-illegal marijuana use, they are now being denied their opportunity to make some money off the legal reversal.
But apparently, the Democrats running things in LA have a different view:
AÂ government program set up to provide cannabis licenses to people harmed by the war on drugs has been plagued by delays, scandal and bureaucratic blunders, costing some intended beneficiaries hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
Black entrepreneurs and activists across LA told the Guardian that the cityâ€™s embattled â€œsocial equityâ€ program has left aspiring business owners on an indefinite waiting list, causing potentially irreparable damage to their familiesâ€™ finances and preventing them from opening marijuana shops they have been planning for years.
Fewer than 20 of the 100 businesses on track to receive a license through the program appear to be black-owned, according to estimates from advocates, who say the community most disproportionately targeted by marijuana arrests is again facing discrimination. And even some of those applicants now face precarious futures.
That’s not to say pot isn’t a money-maker in LA; it’s just that there are “many white business owners” who are making bank, the news site reported.
â€œHow do you get to come and make millions of dollars off of our misery?â€ Lanaisha Edwards, a south LA native who had applied for a cannabis license through the program, told the news site. â€œThe war on drugs destroyed so many families. We should at least get to come out on the other end and create some wealth out of it. But itâ€™s not gonna happen the way this is going.â€
Some blacks viewed the government’s program as “reparations,” The Guardian noted:
Formally launched in 2018, LAâ€™s social equity program received national attention and praise from activists as a potential model for the rest of the nation as more states move to legalize cannabis.
The city aimed to right some of the wrongs of criminalization by giving new retail licenses to people from communities historically harmed by marijuana laws, and by eliminating some of the traditional barriers in opening small businesses. Residents would be eligible if they were low-income and had cannabis arrests or convictions on their records, or lived in LA neighborhoods that were disproportionately targeted by the policing of pot.
â€œThis was supposed to be our reparations,â€ said Rabin Woods, 57, who was arrested in 1983 for a marijuana offense and is now struggling to open a dispensary in LA.
Then came the obligatory Left-wing trashing of police, without any context:
LA law enforcement has a longÂ historyÂ ofÂ profilingÂ black and Latino residents, with data consistently showing disproportionate impacts inÂ stops and searches, arrests and prison time. Under cannabis criminalization, black Americans wereÂ four timesÂ more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people (and in some years,Â seven timesÂ more likely in LA).
After California became the first state to adopt medicinal marijuana in 1996, the loosely regulated medical sector that expanded in LA and other cities largelyÂ excluded communities of color.
Out of nearly 200 cannabis retailers previously approved by the city of LA to do medical dispensaries, only six are black-owned, according to Virgil Grant, one of the six owners and aÂ co-founder of the California Minority Alliance, which advocates inclusion. Even fewer are Latino-owned, he said.
The city initially opened up 100 licenses for “eligible social equity candidates” in September; more than 1,800 people applied.
Many complained that the process was hurried and skewed.
â€œIt went from social equity to who has the fastest internet,â€ said Brandon Brinson, who applied to open a dispensary. â€œIt was like a rat race.”
The Guardian added: Activists estimated that only 18 of the people who made the top 100 list were African American. Some of them are still facing obstacles to launching.
Worse, according to LA’s dispensary rules, all applicants had to already have an available storefront in which to place their business. That led many applicants to quickly scramble to rent expensive storefront property and secure investors. And now, they’re essentially left holding the bag.
While many are beginning to ask how LA officials could have “gotten this so wrong,” it needs to be said that Democratic bureaucracy — often ill-conceived and always inherently unfair — is not safe from allegations of racism.
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