“It has been more than two years since New York notionally legalized recreational marijuana, and things are not going quite as planned. “Although Gov. Kathy Hochul suggested last fall that more than 100 dispensaries would be operating by this summer,” The New York Times notes, “just 12 have opened since regulators issued the first licenses in November.”
Part of the problem, as you might expect, is red tape and bureaucratic ineptitude. But another barrier to letting licensed marijuana merchants compete with the unauthorized vendors who have conspicuously proliferated since the spring of 2021 is the state’s affirmative action program for victims of pot prohibition.
New York, like several other states that have legalized marijuana, mandated preferences for license applicants who suffered as a result of the crusade against cannabis. While that idea has a pleasing symmetry, it never made much sense as a way of making up for the harm inflicted by cannabis criminalization. And in practice, executing the plan has drastically limited the legal marijuana supply, making it much harder to achieve the state’s avowed goal of displacing the black market.
To be clear: I don’t think people with marijuana convictions should be excluded from participating in the newly legal market, a policy that would add insult to injury. But that does not mean they should have a legal advantage over cannabis entrepreneurs who were never arrested but might be better qualified.”
“New York reserved the first batch of up to 175 retail licenses mainly for people with marijuana-related criminal records or their relatives. Those applicants needed to show they had experience running a “profitable” legal business in the state. Nonprofit organizations with “a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals” also were eligible, provided they had “at least five full time employees,” “at least one justice involved board member,” and a track record of operating “a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two years.” Another requirement was demonstrating “a significant presence in New York State,” which led to litigation and a temporary injunction against issuing retail licenses in five areas of the state.
Satisfying the state’s criteria required “a lot of documentation,” Bloomberg CityLab reporter Amelia Pollard noted last fall, which gave New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) “a mound of paperwork to wade through.” As of November, the OCM had received more than 900 applications from would-be marijuana retailers. On November 20, it announced that it had granted 36 “provisional conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses” to individuals and organizations.”
“The approved retailers are far outnumbered by unauthorized vendors, many of whom openly sell marijuana from storefronts, trucks, and tables, unencumbered by the state’s licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes. Yelp’s list of the “best recreational marijuana dispensaries” in New York City includes 90 outlets, only a few of which are blessed by the OCM.”
“Taiwanese student Ti “Joyce” Chun-Shan demonstrated English proficiency daily when she came to the United States at age 39. She took college classes in English, maintained good grades and earned a certification in ESL.
Chun-Shan, who finished a massage therapy program and earned an associate’s degree at Chandler Gilbert Community College in Arizona, also spoke English with clients as part of her training.
Nobody complained about a language barrier. Yet when Chun-Shan applied for an occupational license—a formality for most of her classmates—the Arizona Board of Massage Therapy singled her out for extra scrutiny.
State law requires massage therapists who are not native English speakers to demonstrate “communication proficiency.” So regulators told Chun-Shan, who grew up speaking Mandarin, that she would have to take an English test and exceed board-imposed standards in four sections: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
The board sets minimum standards outrageously high. Scores must exceed the median for all groups of test takers, including native English speakers and college graduates. Rather than waste her time and money—up to $325—Chun-Shan refused to take the test.
Other states lay similar traps, sometimes indirectly. Licensing programs and exams, for example, are often available only in English. Washington, D.C., added another barrier to those who don’t speak English fluently in 2016, when the district decided that daycare providers must have an associate’s degree in early childhood development or a closely related field.
The law says nothing about English proficiency, yet a 2018 analysis showed that all qualifying programs at nearby colleges were taught exclusively in English. As part of the coursework, aspiring daycare providers must earn credit in language-intensive subjects like public speaking and composition.”
“Florida passed sweeping licensing reforms in 2020. And Utah has passed several bills in recent years to ease the regulatory burden on service providers. Among other reforms, Utah has exempted hairstylists from cosmetology licensing and reduced the training hours necessary to perform limited massage therapy.
Connecticut is moving in the opposite direction. In 2019, the state restored an abolished licensing requirement for manicurists, an occupation dominated by Vietnamese immigrants. Meanwhile, Louisiana and Oklahoma have dug in—following lawsuits from the Institute for Justice—to protect licensing requirements for eyebrow threaders, an occupation dominated by South Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants.
Unnecessary regulations like these that prevent immigrants from being able to make a living are wrong in any language.”
“Long-haul driving, in particular, can be grueling, with lengthy wait times that aren’t compensated and other costs to being out on a route for stretches at a time. “Why do people not want to become truck drivers? That’s the situation, or the root of the issue. And the reason for that is it’s a shitty job,” said Hanno Friedrich, associate professor of freight transportation at Kühne Logistics University.”
“The first thing to know about the truck driver shortage, experts said, is that it’s not exactly a shortage. “It’s a recruitment and retention problem,” said Michael Belzer, a trucking industry expert at Wayne State University.
In the US, “there are in fact millions of truck drivers — people who have commercial driver’s licenses — who are not driving trucks and are not using those commercial driving licenses, more than we would even need,” Belzer said. “That’s because people have gotten recruited into this job, maybe paid to get trained in this job, and realize, ‘This is not for me. This is not adequate for what I’m doing.’”
When it comes to recruitment, it’s hard to get people into the business, especially young people. There’s often a gap between when people leave school (say, age 18) and when they can legally drive a truck across state lines (typically age 21), which means those folks may have already found jobs and aren’t going to be wooed away to become truckers.
There are other barriers to entry, like schooling (the costs of which can vary) and the ability to obtain a special class of driver’s license. Around the world, training and testing for truck drivers stalled because of Covid-19 lockdowns. The industry also struggles to attract women into the workforce because of safety concerns and inadequate accommodations along routes and at rest stops.
But truck driving also isn’t the job it used to be. In the United States, for example, deregulation of the industry, which accelerated in the 1980s, alongside the decline of unions, means trucker wages have been shrinking for years. But the work itself hasn’t really changed. It involves long hours, and a lot of that can be time spent uncompensated. “You could spend all day or a day and a night waiting around to get a load at a port site offloaded and loaded up, and you’re not getting paid for any of that time,” said Matthew Hockenberry, a professor at Fordham University who studies the media of global production.
This feeds not just into the recruitment problem, but also the retention problem. Truck drivers are burned out. Long-haul drivers, especially — that is, those who are moving cargo long distances or across states — typically get paid for the trips they take, and they have to go where the cargo needs to go, with little control over when and where. “The route is the route,” as Weaver put it.”
“The toughness of being a truck driver — the long hours, the treks, the waiting at ports or warehouses to get the goods — isn’t an accident. It’s mostly a consequence of being caught up in the demands of the modern supply chain, the one that is under so much pressure now.
Experts told me that even as wages for truckers have declined, shipping and logistics companies are increasing their rates. But that hasn’t really trickled down to the truck drivers’ pockets. “The trucking companies fight over the scraps. And the drivers fight over the scraps left over after the trucking companies fight over it. All of this cascades down, and the most powerful party here is always the one to win,” Belzer said.
And, he added, when it came to truckers: “Because of where they stand in the power relations throughout the supply chain, they’re the least powerful people.”
Experts and those involved in the trucking industry said wages for truckers have ticked up because of the labor demand in this stage of the pandemic, just as they have in other parts of the labor market in the US. There may be good signing bonuses to be had, too. But truckers don’t have a say in the routes they drive, or how long it takes for their cargo to be offloaded at a port. The job remains difficult, and it might not be enough.”
“the evidence on the effects of universal background checks and assault weapons bans is pretty weak. Several studies in recent years have found that universal background checks, at least on their own, don’t seem to have a big effect on gun deaths. Similarly, the research on assault weapons bans, including the national ban that Biden helped pass in 1994, found they have little effect on gun violence, largely because the vast majority of such violence is committed with handguns.
But there’s some solid evidence that a license system reduces gun deaths. A 2018 study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that universal background checks alone correlated with more gun homicides in urban counties, while license systems were associated with fewer gun homicides. Other studies have similarly found that license requirements lead to fewer gun deaths.”
“In Massachusetts, one of the few states with a license system, obtaining a permit requires going through a multi-step process involving interviews with police, background checks, a gun safety training course, and more. Even if a person passes all of that, the local police chief can deny an application anyway. That creates more points at which an applicant can be identified as too dangerous to own a gun; it makes getting and owning a gun harder.”
“And why should government officials be able to exercise such power and control? If they believe people are violating rules (whether wise rules or the ever-expanding web of stupid ones), let them prove their point in front of courts that might or might not uphold the charges. Does that sound more difficult? Good.
It should never be easy to deprive people of their liberty or their means of making a living.
But government officials want to be able to punish people without jumping through hoops or risking push-back. They like a permission society, in which offending the powerful can result in the revocation of grants of privilege without formality or delay. A system of privileges rather than rights puts everybody at risk of officials’ pleasures, if it doesn’t drive them underground.
That’s good enough reason to get rid of licensing requirements.”
“Medical professionals are typically licensed on a state-by-state basis, so a doctor licensed in one state can’t practice in another without receiving an additional license. The patchwork of licensing requirements across states is a major obstacle to the use of telemedicine because physicians are generally only permitted to provide telemedicine services to patients in states where they are licensed.
States are recognizing the cost of these onerous regulations in light of the current crisis. Over the past few weeks, governors and medical boards in every state except for Alaska, Arkansas, and Minnesota have temporarily suspended their licensing rules to allow out-of-state physicians to work in their state. Most of them have also waived restrictions on the use of telemedicine across state lines.”
“Some states are in greater need of physicians than others. On average, there are roughly 263 physicians per 100,000 people in the United States. But in Massachusetts, there are 449 physicians compared to just 191 in Mississippi. Moreover, the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to peak at different times in each state, so the peak demand for health care providers will vary. Allowing physicians to practice across state lines grants them flexibility to help where they are needed most.”
“Beyond the current crisis, telemedicine has the potential to connect patients with specialists across the country. Telemedicine may also reduce inefficiencies that result from schedule gaps, unexpected appointment cancellations, and the uneven geographic distribution of physicians.
A growing, aging population is expected to generate a national shortage of nearly 220,000 physicians by 2032. As with the current distribution of physicians, shortages will not be evenly distributed across states. Regional projections from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicate that the Southeast will have a shortage of approximately 13,860 primary care physicians as early as 2025, while the Northeast will have a surplus of around 810 physicians. Telemedicine offers a solution, but states will need to reform their licensing laws for the technology to reach its full potential.”
“Occupational licensing, whether it’s of contractors or hair braiders, is often much more about protecting incumbent businesses and government licensing revenue than it is about safeguarding the welfare of consumers.
Operation House Hunters is a perfect illustration of this, with cops going to great lengths to manufacture licensing law violations that either wouldn’t have happened or wouldn’t have produced unsatisfied parties.
The more effort law enforcement spends entrapping handymen, the fewer personnel and resources they have to devote to deterring other, more serious crimes. “These sting operations rake in big money in fines and court costs,” Sammis says. “Catching real criminals actually committing a crime is much harder.””