Woke Smoke

Weed brings people together, you know?

“When you meet a new friend in the weed scene, you can bet that the two of you will share many of the same moral and political values. The cannabis community at large is typically more accepting of all races, genders and sexual orientations than the general public. Most stoners believe in fairness and sharing what they have, and also believe that the harmful War on Drugs should end as soon as possible. Having been ostracized by society for so long, cannabis users have a soft spot for other oppressed groups.”

So say the contributors to highthere.com, and to all appearances, the General Assembly agrees: a legislative package, approved on April 7, 2021, and signed by Governor Northam on April 21, 2021 (they tried so hard to hit 4/20), aims to get everybody stoned, and to use pot sales to fund government inclusivity initiatives. A double cure for intolerance and exclusion demanding high fives all around.

Virginia’s office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created without much noise on April 6, 2020. They have been occupied, so far, with the kind of moral pronouncements you would expect:

“Inequity is rooted in America’s foundation. Accordingly, Virginia’s history is replete with unrelenting, pervasive structural racism…American institutions of racial domination have evolved from slavery and segregation to punitive, exploitative, and unjust systems of housing, education, labor markets, criminal justice, and more…to create a caste-like racial hierarchy system…at the intersection of white supremacy and de facto hegemony, which continue to permeate Virginia and all of its systems today.”

With the legalization of marijuana, however, mere exhortation can give way to spending. Virginia’s new pot-promoting legislation will create “an independent political subdivision…exclusive of the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of state government, to be known as the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority,” after the same pattern of the “Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.” Like the ABC, the Cannabis Authority will collect excise taxes: 

“§ 4.1-1003. Marijuana tax; exceptions. 

A. A tax of 21 percent is levied on the sale in the Commonwealth of any retail marijuana, retail marijuana products, marijuana paraphernalia sold by a retail marijuana store, non-retail marijuana, and non-retail marijuana products. The tax shall be in addition to any tax imposed under Chapter 6 (§ 58.1-600 et seq.) of Title 58.1 or any other provision of federal, state, or local law.”

Thirty percent of the Cannabis Control Authority’s “net profits” will be, pursuant to Va. Code § 4.1-614, payable to the “Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund.” That fund will be administered by the “Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board” of which the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be the chair and a voting member.

If the profits of the Virginia ABC are any measure, then the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will hold the strings of a fat purse indeed: in 2020, the Virginia ABC reported $1.2 billion in gross revenue, of which $545.3 million was remitted to the Commonwealth “for designated state programs and services.” Consider what they could get up to with $166 million!

I envision a well-baked populace grooving to CRT ASMR. Smoke, get woke.

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