New York City is being overrun with unlicensed marijuana retailers. It seemed to happen almost overnight. Suddenly there were signs in front of smoke shops advertising pre-roll THC joints; there are edibles at many bodegas. Gotham is awash in weed. How did this happen? Wokeness. Allow me to explain.
Twenty months ago, New York state legalized retail sales of marijuana, but with a woke catch. As a form of reparations, the state decided to give licenses to sell pot almost exclusively to people who had been previously convicted of marijuana offenses.
Let’s set aside the insanity of rewarding criminal behavior in such a way and focus on the fact it was only last month that the first 36 licenses were granted. Thirty-six. Since March of 2021, when legalization occurred, hundreds of unlicensed retailers have sprung up like, well, weeds.
Now, Mayor Eric Adams says we need a crackdown on unlicensed marijuana sellers and harsher penalties for them or else the licensed shops owned by ex-cons won’t survive.
Just to make this clear, Adams says we need harsher penalties for selling marijuana illegally so that people who were supposedly wrongly penalized harshly for selling marijuana illegally in the past can sell marijuana legally now. This is a level of absurdity that Lewis Carroll would have found too far-fetched for “Alice in Wonderland.”
It is a master class in the deleterious effect of progressive wokism and its backwards priorities. Cities and states all over the world have legalized retail marijuana sales for over a decade by creating simple, straightforward and open regulatory systems. It’s not that hard.
Instead, New York decided to, as the lefties put it, center equity in the policy. While the board put in charge of all this counted on their toes for almost two years, figuring out how to give ex-criminals a monopoly on this new market, entrepreneurs who would have been happy to play by fair rules simply set up shop.
Now they are being punished for a crime the state claims should never have been a crime in the first place. Make it make sense.
Here’s a condensed list of the downsides to regulation by unworkable reparations that invites a black market. The sales aren’t taxed, nobody is checking underage sales, the products might be dangerous and are absolutely supplied by criminal cartels, edibles that look like normal candy are sold and can be eaten by kids.
This is what has been wrought by New York’s political class that cares more about virtue signaling than sound policy.
There were any number of ways that the wrongheaded progressives who run the Empire State could have given preference to criminals in the pot trade that would not have caused a wild, wild west of flower, vape and brownie. Tax credits or business loans for example.
But they chose to choke this new industry because they didn’t want the privileged, read white, or wealthy, or conservative, to thrive in this new endeavor. And what was the result? A new criminal class, a new crackdown, and on whom? Not the privileged, but the marginalized.
The sad fact is that there may be no going back now. How many NYPD resources in an already crime-ridden city do we want focused on licensing issues for a trade already legalized? New Yorkers are used to buying their grass down the block, they’re not going to endure legal dispensaries now.
They say go woke and go broke. Here really is the perfect example, an already destitute New York state has forgone millions in sales tax on weed to stand on a ludicrous principle.
Welcome to Weed City, all the progressives’ horses and all the progressives’ men will never put rational marijuana policy back together again.