08 December 2022 |

Brittney Griner released from Russian prison 

By Kaitlin Domangue

News broke this morning that Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison in a prisoner swap with Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer convicted of conspiring to kill American citizens.

Brittney Griner was convicted of drug charges after bringing less than one gram of cannabis vape oil into Russia allegedly by accident, according to Brittney’s testimony.

She was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, and the cannabis industry has closely followed her story.

The precedence is set. How will the feds handle cannabis from this day forward?

For the cannabis industry and Griner’s family, it’s a pretty exciting day. There’s no question that Brittney’s punishment reinforces the need for overturning draconian drug laws across the globe. 

But the details of the prisoner swap deserve closer examination and, in the opinion of many, more scrutiny. 

Viktor Bout is dubbed the “Merchant of Death” for his crimes and, in the eyes of the former Chief of Operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, “one of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth.”

Biden’s negotiation and ultimate release of Viktor Bout in exchange for Brittney Griner set precedence about how the federal government views cannabis. 

There should be zero reasons President Biden and his administration don’t champion federal legalization through the rest of their terms. 

In the eyes of many Americans, and much of the world, the Biden administration is effectively saying that being jailed for nine years over cannabis is so heinous that we are willing to release a man that conspired to kill Americans.

President Biden’s actions for the remainder of his term must come with the same energy he has now. Release Americans in prison for cannabis. Change federal laws for Americans. Period. 

Otherwise, I employ my fellow industry professionals to strongly consider whether President Biden will get your 2024 vote. 

Cannabis sales mean fewer alcohol sales, according to a new study ​

Canadian researchers have identified a “significant negative association” between legal cannabis sales and alcohol sales. 

The study found that each Canadian dollar of cannabis sold was associated with an alcohol sales decline of between 74 and 84 Canadian cents. 

The benefits of reduced alcohol sales outweigh the negatives of cannabis legalization 

They were careful to point out that this study does not indicate causation, but it does suggest that legal cannabis replaced some alcohol consumption in Canada. 

Cheers to that, y’all! 

Alcohol sales in Canada were roughly 1.8% lower in 2017-2018 than they otherwise would have been without legal cannabis sales. 

Researchers suggest that the benefits of reduced alcohol purchases could partially outweigh any cons associated with cannabis legalization. 

“For example, increased cannabis-related health problems might come with decreased alcohol-related ones. And governments’ new cannabis tax income might be offset by lower alcohol tax revenues,” researchers told MJBizDaily. 

This study is just another piece of evidence added to the mounding pile proving cannabis legalization is beneficial. (As if we needed it.)

We can only hope that lawmakers address this growing pile and release meaningful legislation for state-licensed cannabis operations. 

Another round of layoffs hits Weedmaps 

The cannabis industry can’t catch a break. Layoffs are everywhere.

Another round of layoffs hit Weedmaps earlier this week, making it the second round of releases for the company in six months. 

The cannabis tech giant slashed 10% of its workforce in August and roughly 25% this week, representing up to 175 employees affected by the latest round of layoffs. 

Weedmaps said it would cost about $10.7 million, including severance payments and employee benefits, and expects the staff reduction to be “be substantially complete by the first quarter of 2023, subject to local law and consultation requirements, which may extend the process in certain countries.”

This move comes after Weedmaps’ CEO Chris Beal’s departure in November, as the company posted a quarterly loss of $10.5 million.