25 October 2022 |

Those convicted of selling cannabis not part of reform plans, Biden says

By Kaitlin Domangue

Missouri law enforcement forces sponsors of recreational cannabis bill to pull their ads 

For some reason, Missouri’s cannabis industry attracts a lot of drama. It might be because I live here, but anyways.

In the Show-Me State’s latest saga; Legal Missouri 2022 had to pull an ad about their cannabis recreational bill that will be on November’s ballots.

The group used the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s emblem without permission. Law enforcement sent legal Missouri 2022 a cease-and-desist letter, and the ads were removed and reuploaded without police logos.

The ads encouraged Missourians to support the police and vote for Amendment 3, legalizing cannabis and allowing officers to spend more time on dangerous crimes. 

Under this legislation, existing Missouri medical cannabis operators will receive the first round of recreational licenses, and regulators will issue a second round of microlicenses to social equity applicants who meet specific criteria.

These micro facilities can’t exceed a certain number of square feet or more than ten employees on staff.

Mixed support for Amendment 3

Amendment 3 has received a lot of flack from activists who think corporate cannabis operators will be the bill’s primary beneficiaries. Plenty of people in Missouri cannabis won’t vote for it.

The initiative raised almost $700,000 in October alone, though – with the most significant donations coming from Missouri medical cannabis operators. The bill has mixed support, with some definitely standing to gain more than others.

Also, at one point, the group scrambled to provide additional signatures to the state at the last second – leaving us wondering if the bill would make November’s ballot at all. 

Just 43% of Missouri voters support the initiative, according to Remington Research Group and Missouri Scout.

Buuut the same group got it wrong in 2018 when Missourians said yes to medical cannabis, as pointed out by Legal MO, so we’ll see what happens in about two weeks when we vote 🙂 

President Biden gets clear on whose records he’s pardoning

Like…crystal freaking clear, y’all. Let’s leave this man behind in 2024, please.

I’m keeping my promise that no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana,” said President Biden. “None. And the records, which hold up people from being able to get jobs and the like, should be totally expunged. Totally expunged.”

He adds, “You can’t sell it. But if it’s just use, you’re completely free.”

I’m confused. 

Does our federal government believe cannabis isn’t harmful? They are suggesting they believe that by expunging records for past use and possession. If that’s the case, why aren’t people who sell cannabis also off the hook? 

Was it all hype? 

President Biden’s cannabis comments were part of a more significant statement on student loan forgiveness at Delaware State University. He said, “you can’t sell it.” He didn’t mention people with additional criminal charges, which would be more understandable than this comment.

It’s an interesting note because the federal government does not have a problem with people selling cannabis. They love it.

Astronomically-high cannabis taxes due to tax code 280e means the federal government will cash in $5 billion over the next decade if cannabis stays illegal.

The clemency President Biden announced a few weeks ago affects 6,500 people, and for those 6,500: President Biden’s recent efforts are impactful and should not be minimized. 

But President Biden’s recent statement reinforces that the recent headlines about federally legal cannabis and a changed outlook on cannabis in the U.S. may have been no more than hype regarding the cannabis industry and criminal justice reform at large. 

We will see how the review process plays out, but until then: don’t be silent about descheduling. Descheduling – not rescheduling – will drive the industry forward. 

Brittney Griner’s appeal denied

Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison in August, a decision her legal team appealed, which was denied today. 

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine were about to explode when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing 0.7 grams of cannabis oil, prompting some to worry this case would be used by Russia for political leverage during wartime. 

“We are very disappointed,” The New York Times quoted Brittney’s attorneys in a statement today. “The verdict contains numerous defects, and we hoped that the court of appeal would take them into consideration.”

At one point, a prisoner swap looked likely, but this hasn’t gained further traction. The circumstances surrounding Brittney’s imprisonment have been widely reported, with claims she’s barely spoken to her wife and family in the U.S. since her arrest. 

American hypocrisy?

The federal government has not been silent about Brittney’s case, further confusing American citizens and cannabis business owners who need federal support to survive. 

Biden said his administration “will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan [another American in a Russian prison] home safely as soon as possible” when Brittney was convicted in August. 

Even Russian officials have indicated the American government is acting hypocritical because our citizens sit behind bars for cannabis. 

Brittney’s legal team isn’t sure which direction the case will proceed from here and told the Times, “We need to discuss this with our client. We generally think that we must use all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict.”