Pubdate: Thu, 24 Mar 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Thadeus Greenson


In what can only be considered a decisive win for marijuana 
enthusiasts, the United States Supreme Court this week struck down a 
challenge of Colorado's recreational use law.

Attempting to leverage a provision that allows the SCOTUS to mitigate 
disputes between states, Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a joint suit 
directly with the nation's highest court alleging that Colorado's law 
was in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act and allowed 
marijuana to pour over the border and into their states, where it 
remains illegal.

"The state of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits 
from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing 
and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of 
marijuana to some 36 states in 2014," state attorneys for Nebraska 
and Oklahoma argued in the suit, according to a report in the Los 
Angeles Times. "If this entity were based south of our border, the 
federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel."

In a 6-2 vote, with justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. 
dissenting, the SCOTUS turned away the lawsuit, apparently unmoved by 
the middle states' argument. Perhaps it was just the hypothetic the 
justices found unpersuasive, as they realize the feds are doing 
little to prosecute the array of cartels moving untold amounts of 
illicit products across the U.S. border.

Oklahoma and Nebraska also argued that the Obama administration has 
essentially turned its back on federal law, and is permitting it to 
be "dismantled by piecemeal nullification." Nullification, of course, 
is the theory held by Thomas Jefferson that states can and must 
refuse to enforce federal laws that are unconstitutional.

Hmm, piecemeal nullification. That kind of has a nice ring to it. 
Maybe someone ought to name a strain after it.

America's Green Rush is being whitewashed, reports Amanda Chicago 
Lewis in Buzzfeed.

Lewis writes that every state that has legalized medical or 
recreational marijuana has put laws in place banning people with 
felony drug convictions on their records from being involved in 
cannabis businesses at any level, whether it's working for them, 
owning them, investing in them or sitting on their boards. This has a 
hugely disproportionate impact on minorities, Lewis writes, and is 
effectively keeping them out of the budding industry. In her piece, 
Lewis estimates that fewer than three dozen of the up to 3,600 
storefront marijuana dispensaries in the United States - about 1 
percent - are owned by black people.

Lewis largely attributes this to the fact that minorities who smoke, 
possess or grow marijuana have historically been way more likely to 
get busted for it than their white counterparts. (A recent American 
Civil Liberties Union analysis found that - though blacks and whites 
use marijuana at roughly equal rates - blacks are 3.73 times more 
likely to be arrested for possession).

But the reporter also notes that there are economic disparities at 
play as well, as it costs a lot of money to open a weed business and 
the nation has great wealth disparities along racial lines. (Forbes 
reports that the typical black household in the U.S. has just 6 
percent of the wealth of the typical white household; the average 
Latino household has just 8 percent.)

Whatever the layered causes, Lewis notes that the weed industry - 
once "open to anyone with some seeds and some hustle" - is now being 
concentrated in white hands.

"Legalizing marijuana sounds revolutionary, but with every day that 
passes, the same class of rich white men that control all other 
industries are tightening their grip on this one, snatching up 
licenses and real estate and preparing for a windfall," she writes. 
"First-mover advantage, they call it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom