An article on Yahoo News reports that the rise of legal marijiuana in the U.S. has been attended by a rise in local corruption — not unheard of when profit, government officials and government regulation intersect.
The article includes a lengthy passage on happenings in Arkansas during the slow, convoluted and contentious rollout of medical marijuana here.
It includes familiar facts — the marijuana commissioner, Travis Story, with ties to a state legislator. A suspicion that one permit applicant might have offered a bribe to a member of the commission. Racial politics Legal battles, only one successful, as detailed here:
Abraham Carpenter, a farmer in Grady, Ark., who also grows produce and hemp. Carpenter Farms was the only 100 percent Black-owned applicant. Despite the application’s high score, it was disqualified based on a “scriveners’ error,” a minor inconsistency in two parts of his application, despite the fact that one of the winning applicants had the same error.
During a commission hearing in June, Carpenter explained how he had taken his grievances to the attorney general’s office, the commission, and even the governor’s office. Everyone told him his only remedy is through the courts.
“We’ll, we’ve been all the way to the Supreme Court and we prevailed,” he said. “We are yet to be treated fairly.”
The licensed cultivators “want to fix prices at high levels,” said Billy Murphy, the Baltimore civil rights attorney who represented Carpenter in the case. “We belong at the table. We’ve earned it with our blood, sweat, tears, our prison sentences.”
The state Supreme Court ruled that the commission violated equal protection, amounting to racial discrimination. The regulatory agency “differentiates among individuals (the 100 percent minority-owned applicants and everyone else),” the court wrote.
Carpenter eventually got a license, but another lawsuit from existing growers is trying to stop newer licensees.