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Smokescreens and stink

State’s secrecy behind medical marijuana licensing opens door for abuses.


this would be anything but a fully abovehat stink in the air and hazy board operation subject to all the transsmokescreen surrounding Misparency requirements applied to other souri’s nascent effort to license businesses in the state. medical marijuana has nothNot so. The state Department of ing to do with the pot itself. Lobbyists, Health and Senior Services has taken the deep-pocketed investors, entrepreneurs strictest possible interpretation of wordand some possible scam artists are ing in November’s Amendment 2 refermaneuvering to seize their cut of this endum supporting medical marijuana potentially lucrative market. It’s a situlegalization. The amendment contained ation ripe for abuse, made worse by the boilerplate language state’s own decision designed to ensure to sidestep publicthe state would information laws protect license about would-be applicants’ sensitive licensees. information, such Without stricter as Social Security adherence to the numbers and finanstate’s Sunshine cial records. Law, Missouri risks The state must venturing into this safeguard “the uncharted territory confidentialwith little or no ability of reports or ity for the public to other information scrutinize the major obtained from actors involved. an applicant or Last month, about licensee containing 75 entrepreneurs any individualized gathered in St. Louis data, information, for a workshop by Colorado-based DAVID CARSON • P-D or records related to the licensee or consulting firm Diane Czarkowski and her husband, Canna Advisors to Jay Czarkowski, introduce themselves its operation,” the amendment says. learn how to break to attendees at the Canna Advisors The state health into the tightly business workshop at the University department mainregulated business. of Missouri St. Louis on Feb. 19. About tains, absurdly, that Canna’s owners, 75 people attended the event. this wording preJay and Diane Czarvents releasing even kowski, claimed a high level of expertise that helped secure the names of the applicants. The Post-Dispatch argues in a lawsuit licenses for dozens of companies in filed in January that the health depart29 states, the Post-Dispatch’s Nassim ment is violating the state’s Sunshine Benchaabane reported. Law by refusing to provide any informaWhat they didn’t divulge is that their tion about the identities of those seeking own cultivation and dispensary license licenses for the testing, growth, sale and in Colorado was revoked in 2012 after dispensing of medical marijuana. As of being cited for numerous serious violaJan. 10, more than 250 applications had tions. The Czarkowskis were hardly the been received and more than $2 million kind of people Missouri entrepreneurs in application fees collected. should be paying for guidance on how to Adherence to the Sunshine Law traverse this complicated new terrain. That’s just a taste of the problems that won’t necessarily protect the public and would-be investors from exploitative await this industry if Missouri allows practices, but it would certainly ensure potential operators to hide behind a the public’s right to know the names cloak of secrecy when they apply for and investigate the backgrounds of the licenses. Voters overwhelmingly suppeople behind these new enterprises. ported legalizing medical marijuana in November, having no reason to believe

Hold abusers accountable


Intimidation tactics targeted advocates and journalists at the border.

ederal U.S. border agents have compiled a list of activists, legal advocates and journalists to be targeted for questioning when they’re encountered at the border with Mexico, according to new reporting. Some have already been detained and interrogated. The revelation raises serious First Amendment issues. It also underscores how skewed the Trump administration’s priorities have become on immigration. The administration appears again to care more about manipulating public opinion regarding issues at the border than actually addressing them. According to KNSD-TV in San Diego and NBC News, Customs and Border Protection compiled a list of 59 people — mostly Americans — who border agents believe were present when violence broke out at the Tijuana section of the border in November. Some migrants, frustrated at the long wait for processing, ran through checkpoints and clashed with immigration officers, who responded with tear gas. The watch list includes one U.S.-based attorney and 10 journalists, seven of them Americans. Another 31 Americans were labeled as “instigators.” The border patrol says the list was needed to “collect evidence” about the Tijuana incident. But Americans who were there to protest, to provide legal representation or to cover the conflict as journalists weren’t the issue; the migrants were. The only reasons for intimidation tactics like these against Americans are to silence protests, hinder legal action and thwart legitimate reporting of the issue. Some of those on the list who’d been

detained told NBC News they were interrogated for personal details and were asked to turn over their cellphones. Though the border patrol says it’s all part of the review of the Tijuana unrest, many of the interviewees told the network they weren’t even asked about that. They were, however, asked about their work with migrants seeking asylum — a legitimate process that migrants have a right to do and that advocates have a right to help them with. The American Civil Liberties Union rightly calls the listing and detentions “an outrageous violation of the First Amendment” and is contemplating legal action. “The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs,” the ACLU said in a statement. The House Homeland Security Committee is investigating, as is the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border patrol. Investigators need to identify who ultimately ordered this. Did it come from the White House? That’s not an unthinkable scenario, given the administration’s demonstrated hostility toward constitutional freedoms of the press, protest and legal advocacy. Those freedoms are more important than ever, considering the growing public scrutiny and misinformation regarding immigration issues. Orders were issued to violate Americans’ basic civil rights. Whether it’s the courts, internal investigators or Congress, someone needs to hold accountable the officials who abused their powers.

See editorial cartoons from around the country online at stltoday.com/opinion

yOUR VIEWS • LETTERS FROM OUR READERS few densely populated areas. Ask residents of the 23 wards if they now understand the need for an Electoral College. Joe Nenninger • Catawissa

Using popular vote method would make Missouri matter


This 2004 photo shows a 1944 Piper Cub J3 aircraft at Creve Coeur Airport. A decision by the Maryland Heights City Council will affect a local vintage aircraft community that uses the airport.

Proposed warehouse will harm vintage aircraft community Regarding “Maryland Heights council approves mixed-use project by Creve Coeur Airport” (March 9): Maryland Heights recently decided to allow a large developer to take advantage of an error that a member of the city staff uncovered, and quite possibly sounded the death knell for a piece of American history. The City Council’s staff reached the conclusion that a 35-foot height restriction put in place by a previous council was meant to apply to a parcel of land adjacent to the grass runway at Creve Coeur Airport. But due to a clerical error, documents show the height restriction as being applied to a different parcel of land. Now, KBG Inc. is going to build a 55-foot warehouse next to the grass runway, effectively closing it to safe use by the vintage aircraft community that has been at the airport since 1949. The City Council had the opportunity to correct the error, and in the process preserve a piece of aviation history. But instead, they chose to line city coffers and turn this cultural gem into a generic piece of concrete with some featureless metal buildings next to it. This region has plenty of land next to the highway to build another hollow industrial park that will be empty in a few years’ time. It is a shame that Maryland Heights has decided to sacrifice an institution of American heritage so that it can reap a few years of tax benefits only to be home to empty warehouses and become just the same as countless other communities across the country. Christopher Blanc • Bel-Nor

City election shows why the Electoral College is smart Regarding “Lewis Reed won just 5 wards, but high turnout there pushed him to victory” (March 7): Any opponents of the Electoral College need only look at the voting map on the Post-Dispatch front page to understand why the Founding Fathers chose this concept. Lewis Reed won only five wards (two with less than 50 percent of the vote) in the election for president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed won 13 wards (two with less than 50 percent). Look at the geography. Reed won a tiny slice of south St. Louis while Nasheed and Alderman Megan Ellyia Green dominated the area. Ask the voters in the 23 wards if they feel represented. Look at Reed as having taken New York, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan; Nasheed as having taken the entire Midwest (so-called “flyover country”), and Green having taken the South and you can see how a national election can be totally swayed by just a

I believe that the Electoral College, as it stands now, is an outdated system. There is absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be electing our presidents by a nationwide popular vote. The candidate with the most votes should win. This kind of change would make Missouri matter in elections. We don’t count now. Kelley Keisch • Troy, Mo.

Democrats should serve their districts, drop investigations

In my daily activities I come in contact with people from all walks of life and ages. I listen to them express their views on a variety of subjects, from when winter is going to end to the atmosphere in Washington. The majority have had enough of the investigations into President Donald Trump. It is understood that the Democrats and the media hate the president. Now the Democrats threaten another investigation against anyone who knows or who has ever worked with Trump. The representatives are elected to represent and serve the interest of the citizens in their district. Their duties include proposing bills and voting on bills in a manner that would be beneficial to those in their district. Nowhere is it described that the primary focus should be on supporting their party with constant attack on the opposition. At one time, the Democratic Party truly represented the interest of the mainstream of the population. The Democratic platform today has moved so far away that President John F. Kennedy would not recognize it. Len Poli • Cedar Hill

Non-compete clauses play a key role for business owners In Kenneth Ciszewski’s March 6 letter to the editor (“Non-compete clauses are unfair, should be outlawed”), he argued for non-compete agreements to be outlawed at the federal level. I disagree based on my experience. I owned three small stores in St. Louis County for 21 years and had all my employees sign a short non-compete agreement as a condition of employment. I had partners with less than 50 percent ownership in two of my three stores, and my two partners each signed more complicated legal agreements. One partner violated her employment agreement by getting paid to help another person start a store in Kansas City using proprietary trade information. I caught her in the violation, and she and I severed her employment on terms quite favorable to her. She then went into business in the St. Louis County area, taking with her a manager who also violated her noncompete agreement to go to work for her. I decided not to pursue them legally, although I believe I would have won my case in court. I was just through with them both, and left them to their ultimately failing businesses. Ann Ross • Ballwin Read more letters online at STLtoday.com/letters

TOD ROBBERSON Editorial Page Editor • trobberson@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8382

STLtoday.com/opinion Find us at facebook/PDPlatform • Follow us on twitter @PDEditorial I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty • JOSEPH PULITZER • APRIL 10, 1907 PLATFORM •

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