High in the Upper Valley

A friend forwards Valley News columnist Jim Kenyon’s report from the frontiers of social equity in Vermont. High times have come in legal form to Vermont. Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board began issuing licenses for cannabis retail stores (a/k/a “recreational dispensaries”) on October 1. Kenyon celebrates the license awarded Miriam Wood to open a store in Hartford, Vermont, up the road a few miles from White River Junction:

Wood, who is Black, is among five “social equity” applicants statewide to receive the cannabis board’s approval. (Overall, the board has approved 29 applications.)

Under the groundbreaking legislation, Black and Hispanic retail shop owners don’t pay the annual $10,000 licensing fee for the first year. They pay discounted fees until their fifth year in business.

“Left-leaning state and city leaders nationwide have embraced social equity marijuana licensing programs, which aim to make amends for decades of aggressive policing of low-income, minority people and help them thrive in the multibillion-dollar legal pot industry,” Pew Charitable Trusts reported last year.

Vermont officials make no apologies — and they shouldn’t — for giving Wood and other minority business owners a leg up.

Kenyon needs no license to retail the usual slop supporting claims of racism based on statistical disparities — see my series “Deep secrets of racial profiling” — so he continues to mainline it in this vein, so to speak:

“It’s been well-documented that the war on drugs and the prohibition of marijuana has disproportionately impacted people of color, nationally, and in Vermont,” Nellie Marvel, spokeswoman for the cannabis board, said in a phone interview.

An American Civil Liberties Union state-by-state analysis showed that due to racial profiling and bias in marijuana enforcement, Black people were 6.1 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates, in Vermont. Only five states had higher arrest rates.

Thus the racially discriminatory assessment of license fees. Assuming you are partaking of the substance at issue, it all makes perfect sense.

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