This Week in Gambling is publishing this story because we believe there are several similarities between the legal marijuana industry and online gambling, from public perception to the way the federal government approaches them. The topics are also “states rights” issues, so watching how the Department of Justice approaches states who choose to regulate marijuana may give us some insight into how they may target states with legalized online gambling.
There are a whole lot of reasons to be mad at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for pushing federal prosecutors – against all logic and reason – to crack down on marijuana in California and other states where it’s legal.
The prospect of a new war on drugs. The lost tax revenue. The opening for drug cartels. The realization that public policy is being driven by the tired notion about pot being a “gateway drug” that is as dangerous as heroin and will fry your brain like an egg, because this is your brain on drugs.
It’s enough to make a person who is 21 or older go smoke a … never mind.
There is one interesting twist to all of this, though. Usually, when the federal government starts cracking down on drugs, it’s black and brown people who get disproportionately rounded up and thrown in prison for possession. This time, I doubt that’s going to happen.
For once, wealthy white people will have as much, if not more, to fear from the federal government than poor people of color do. Blame the rapid corporatization of the cannabis industry.
While minorities have largely been locked out, succumbing to barriers such as having a criminal record or lacking the money to get licensed, mostly white venture capitalists and corporations have been investing in large-scale cultivation operations and expensive manufacturing equipment to turn bud into dabs and edibles.
This dynamic could change in the future as equity programs created by Sacramento and Oakland diversify the pot industry. But for now, these white-owned businesses, along with the storefronts also run by mostly white entrepreneurs, are the most obvious and tempting targets for federal prosecutors. These people are now the “usual suspects.”
Of course, not everyone agrees.
More at Sacramento Bee