Maybe Donald Trump is right: The system is rigged. For proof, look at how interest groups are feverishly trying to rig Marylands choice of authorized marijuana growers and processorsThe Black Legislative Caucus wants to rig the selection procedure so that people of color get their share (and more) of the lucrative payoff from legalized pot-growing, despite their lack of high rankings in the objective selection process.
Others recently got the system rigged in a way that denies licenses to a few top-ranked growers who were chosen on merit. Instead, lesser-rated groups in politically sensitive geographic areas were awarded this rich financial prize.
Picking the best, most qualified growers gave way to political rigging of the system.
So much for the commissions carefully planned double-blind selection procedure designed to remove political favoritism and eliminate any hint of subjective bias.
Guarding against tainted results
This well-established, scientific method works beautifully in drug-testing and picking the most skilled musicians for the Baltimore Symphony. So why not use this proven way to guard against tainted results in the states effort to find the best and most capable cannabis growers and processors?
Silly idea. An honest evaluation of the applicants proved too much for state politicians and lobbyists. Their favored applicants failed to make the cut.
Suddenly, criticism rained down on the medical marijuana commission. The cry went out: Bring back Marylands spoils system.
This is a good modern-day civil rights fight, said Del. Cheryl Glenn, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus.
Well. . . thats a stretch.
Its an effort to ensure that already financially well-off minorities get a slice of the action regardless of their capabilities for handling the growing, processing and distribution of medical marijuana.
After all, this is expected to be a national multi-billion-dollar business.
To heck with selecting the most qualified cannabis growers. What Maryland needs is some good old favoritism!
Merit selection process
The commission tried its best to keep politics out of its decision-making. It came up with a way of choosing winning applicants that was devoid of political pressure and influence-peddling a double-blind ranking system conducted by an outside group.
Applicants names, and their investors names, were removed from proposals so the rankings would be based entirely on merit.
It turned out, though, that none of the applications submitted by minority-controlled companies ranked high enough to gain a cultivation license. Thats when impartiality and merit-selection went out the window.
Attorney General Brian Frosh, in an incredibly two-faced action, contradicted his own assistant attorney general and other higher-ups in his agency, who had concluded the commission could not legally tilt the playing field.
Frosh rallied to the side of the Black Caucus. Gov. Larry Hogan expressed concern, too. Word came down from on high: Work something out.
Oh, well, so much for a color-blind government that allows only the best-qualified cannabis cultivators and processors to ply their trade in Maryland.
The commission quickly buckled under the pressure.
In August, the panel stripped two winning companies of their licenses not because they had done something wrong but because one commissioner argued there wasnt enough geographic diversity among authorized growers.
Lower-scoring applicants with more politically acceptable locations were gift-wrapped these valuable permits.
Not surprisingly, the disqualified applicants are threatening to sue. More litigation is inevitable.
If the Black Caucus succeeds in pulling the licenses of other applicants for the sake of diversity or gets the entire process re-started well have enough legal action to set back the cause of medicinal marijuana for a long time.
Yet while minority groups fight for a bigger slice of the cannabis windfall, sick and terminally ill patients in excruciating pain are denied the relief cannabis might provide.
No one seems agitated about that. Mammon rules the day.
Its a royal mess.
Politicians get involved
Years ago, attempts in Maryland to rig the system sent a vice president into shameful exile and a governor and several county executives to prison. The quest for money can be a corrupting influence.
So it is with legalizing medical marijuana at least in Maryland.
Choosing the people who will grow marijuana plants and turn them into safe medicinal products is serious business. It seemed to make sense to pick them based purely on expertise and merit.
But not to the bhoys in Annapolis.
So now politicians have their hands in the action. The result could be lengthy delays and a more expansive and pliable process that allows Marylands spoils system to work its magic.
Is an impartial, unbiased selection system about to be manipulated for the benefit of lesser-qualified applicants who have friends in high places?
You dont need to be Donald Trump to answer that question.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Spoils System Back On Maryland’s Marijuana Licensing By Barry Rascovar
Author: Barry Rascovar
Photo Credit: Glen Stubbe
Website: The Chestertown Spy