The Seattle City Council and Mayor are upset that too many “cannabis businesses are predominantly owned by white males.” They have a plan to tackle the problem in the name of “cannabis fairness”.
The council says white men operate 87% of the city’s pot shops. This statistic is supposed to be proof of institutional racism. Therefore, the city launched a Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) to “address the disproportionate ownership of Seattle’s cannabis businesses and undo some of the damage caused by racially unequal enforcement of past cannabis laws.” .
Through a series of so-called cannabis equity bills, the city is establishing race-based criteria to create more black-owned pot stores. They recognize that some of their ideas are racist and illegal. Now they are looking for ways to circumvent the law.
Cannabis Equity: The Left’s New Invention for Social Justice
To achieve cannabis equity, city leaders redefined “equity” to mean “equal outcomes.”
Since every entrepreneur, regardless of race, has equal access to resources to build a business, the council decided to socially create a more diverse pottery shop ownership. But it’s breed specific.
Although Asians (14.9%) represent Seattle’s largest racial minority, the city hopes there will be more black-owned pot shops. While the black population is only 6.8%, the council notes that black people have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The council says these arrests and convictions have caused “intergenerational poverty, housing insecurity, loss of education and employment opportunities, disruption of family structures and other burdens.” The topic is so empowering that they refuse to say “marijuana”, claiming it’s a term steeped in white supremacy.
The city has used the RET to achieve its goals. Seattle defines this as “a process and set of questions to guide the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budgetary issues to address racial equity impacts.”
Far from leveling the playing field, the RET is supposed to manipulate it.
Too Many Blanks: Invoices Explained
Mayor Bruce Harrell and far-left Councilman Teresa Mosqueda, with the help of left-leaning community activists, announced a trio of bills that expand recently passed state legislation on the same issue. The legislation operates within the framework established by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates the number of licenses to operate pot stores.
Council Bill 120391 does little more than lay out a blueprint for the next legislative year.
The bill states that the mayor’s office will “use summer legal interns to participate in and partner with ongoing regional efforts to work toward expunging cannabis convictions made before 2014.”
It will collect “demographic information about workers currently employed in Seattle’s cannabis industry” to develop new ideas to diversify the workforce and help determine how much the city should fund race-based training to help. non-white Seattle residents to own pot shops.
Council Bill 120392 impacts marijuana license fees.
Business owners who are “social equity seekers” — a condescending term defined as applying almost exclusively to black people — would not have to pay for their marijuana license. This change gives “the greatest chance of success in entering the legal cannabis industry in Seattle,” according to the bill. It is mainly white people who will pay the $3,500 fee.
Finally, Council Bill 120393 covers the retention and protection of pottery shop employees.
The bill will “encourage” pot shops to commit 10% of their staff to being convicted of drug dealers or other drug criminals. It creates a new set of worker rights, primarily when a new owner acquires a pottery store. The new owners must offer all employees employment in the new business. They will keep these jobs for at least 90 days. If there are dismissals, they cannot be based on merit, but on seniority. And they can only happen if the employer “determines that fewer cannabis employees were needed than by the outgoing cannabis employer.”
The city knows a lot of this is illegal
The council and the mayor’s office know that race-based licensing is illegal. You cannot give preferential treatment to one racial group over another. This is why even voters in Washington so consistently reject affirmative action.
To circumvent a potential lawsuit, the city plans to adopt specific language that effectively discriminates against non-Black residents while skirting the line of legality.
To be considered a “social equity seeker” for a marijuana license, your business must be in a “disproportionately affected area.” It is defined by the city (based on state definitions) in a way that only affects black communities:
1. The area has a high poverty rate;
2. The region has a high rate of participation in federal or state programs based on income;
3. The region has a high unemployment rate; and
4. The area has a high rate of arrests, convictions or incarcerations related to the sale, possession, use,
cultivation, manufacture or transport of cannabis.
The entire definition would completely bar Asian, White, and Native American applicants from applying. This probably disqualifies Latinos as well. It’s intentional.
While the city goes out of its way not to single out a racial group for preferential treatment, it left a recommendation to offer “grants/loans and technical assistance to black cannabis businesses.” White, Latino, Asian or Native American business owners are left out.
Cannabis equity hurts more people
It is not the role of government to socially organize diversity in any industry. Since when is it essential for an industry to reflect the diversity of the population it serves? Would the council demand more white or Asian owned businesses if black business owners ran 87% of pot shops? Of course not.
Not everything should be seen through a social justice lens. But it’s 2022 in Seattle, and everything is racist. So the city leaders must frame every issue around race, inventing crusades along the way.
There is no evidence that black people are intentionally expelled from the marijuana industry. A lack of representation is not synonymous with unlawful discrimination. It’s a lazy left-wing argument to point to “a legacy of racism” to make a point you can’t prove.
And while marijuana-related arrests are almost non-existent now, the black community may still suffer.
According to a JAMA study, legalization means that Black and Latino communities “may be more likely than white populations to experience the negative consequences of legalization, including increased frequent cannabis use and CUD. [cannabis use disorder].” The authors say this could be due to “the location of dispensaries (which have been linked to an increase in CUD) in racially majority or ethnic minority neighborhoods.”
Seattle’s cannabis equity plan would likely see After pot shops in black communities. The city’s pot shops are already disproportionately placed in high-population Black and Latino Seattle neighborhoods.
While I generally support someone’s right to get high responsibly if they want to, that’s a dangerous message to send. any community to get high.
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