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Brittney Griner Goes to Trial in Moscow Court Over Drug Charges

Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who has been held in a Russian prison since her February arrest over drug smuggling charges, appeared in a Moscow court for the start of her trial on Friday.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 after being accused of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage.

“Being sufficiently aware that the movement of narcotic drugs is not allowed… no later than February 17, 2022 at an unspecified location under unspecified circumstances from an unidentified person [Griner] bought two cartridges for personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil, totaling 0.702 grams,” a prosecutor said in court on Friday, according to CNN.

CNN reported that the “prosecution argues that Griner intended to import the drugs into Russia’s territory and put the prohibited substances into a backpack and a suitcase,” and that cannabis oil “is subject to control in Russia and is classified as a narcotic drug.”

The trial is scheduled to resume next Friday. Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Griner, one of the most decorated women’s basketball players in history who stars for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, has become a symbol in the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Russia. Her detention, coinciding with Russia’s internationally-condemned invasion of Ukraine, is widely seen as being politically motivated.

In May, the United States reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

There is growing speculation that Russia could be angling for a prisoner swap with the U.S., with The New York Times reporting that the Kremlin appears to be linking Griner’s fate with that of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer currently serving a 25-year federal prison sentence in the United States.

That could put President Joe Biden in a diplomatic quandary, according to the Times.

“The vast disparity between the cases of Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout highlights the extreme difficulty President Biden would face if he sought a prisoner exchange to free Ms. Griner, the detained W.N.B.A. player, from detention in Moscow. The Biden administration, reluctant to create an incentive for the arrest or abduction of Americans abroad, would be hard-pressed to justify the release of a villainous figure like Mr. Bout,” the Times reported.

But the Biden administration is facing mounting pressure to secure Griner’s freedom. Her peers in the sporting community have expressed support for her, while urging the U.S. to do something to end her detention.

LeBron James’s brand, Uninterrupted, issued a message last month calling on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to continue to work for her release.

“For over 100 days, BG has faced inhumane conditions in a Russian prison and has been denied communications with her family and loved ones,” the message read. “As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally. It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”

Griner was arrested as she was returning to Russia to complete her season with UMMC Ekaterinburg. Like many American women’s basketball players, Griner has long competed in Russia during the WNBA’s offseasons.

Although she was arrested in February, her detention was not made public until several weeks later.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said after Russian authorities announced her arrest in March. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”

The post Brittney Griner Goes to Trial in Moscow Court Over Drug Charges appeared first on High Times.

North Carolina Gov. Signs Bill Marking Legal Hemp Permanent

Hemp is now permanently legal in North Carolina thanks to a bill signed into law by the state’s governor.

The legislation was one of three measures signed on Thursday by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. As written, the bill will permanently remove hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances, which brings North Carolina in line with federal law.

Cooper hailed the bill as a win for Tar Heel State farmers.

“Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry and giving North Carolina farmers certainty that they can continue to participate in this growing market is the right thing to do for rural communities and our economy,” Cooper said in a statement following the bill’s signing.

Changes to federal law over the last eight years have made it possible for states to cultivate hemp, a policy that has been a boon to the agriculture community.

In 2014, Congress passed a Farm Bill that enabled state governments and research institutions to cultivate and produce hemp under so-called “pilot programs.”

The 2018 Farm Bill changed national policy over hemp entirely by removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

As the National Conference of State Legislatures explained: “The 2018 Farm Bill allows states and tribes to submit a plan and apply for primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp in their state or in their tribal territory. As described in the USDA interim final rule, a state plan must include certain requirements, such as keeping track of land, testing methods, and disposal of plants or products that exceed the allowed THC concentration. The USDA will review and issue a decision within 60 days on plans submitted by a state to the agency with the goal of providing states enough time to implement their plan before the 2020 hemp season.”

North Carolina had treated its hemp cultivation as a pilot program, which was scheduled to lapse at the end of June. The bill signed into law on Thursday by Cooper extends the program beyond that month, and into the future.

The measure had overwhelming support in North Carolina’s Republican-controlled general assembly, with members of the state Senate passing the bill unanimously in May.

The hemp bill fared better than a proposal to legalize medical cannabis in North Carolina. Members of the state Senate approved that legislation last month by a vote of 35-10, but has stalled in the state House of Representatives.

The bill would permit patients with the following qualifying conditions to receive medical cannabis as a treatment: Cancer; Epilepsy; Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Crohn’s disease; Sickle cell anemia; Parkinson’s disease; Post-traumatic stress disorder, subject to evidence that an applicant experienced one or more traumatic events; Multiple sclerosis; Cachexia or wasting syndrome; Severe or persistent nausea in a person who is not pregnant that is related to end-of-life or hospice care, or who is bedridden or homebound because of a condition; a terminal illness when the patient’s remaining life expectancy is less than six months; or a condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care.

Polls have shown that North Carolina voters are broadly supportive of both medical and recreational cannabis.

Seventy-two percent of registered voters in the state said they are in favor of medical cannabis use, according to a survey released in April. The same poll found that 57% of North Carolina voters believe recreational cannabis should be legal, too.

Support for medical cannabis included 64% of North Carolina Republicans, 46% of whom said they are in favor of recreational pot being made legal.

The post North Carolina Gov. Signs Bill Marking Legal Hemp Permanent appeared first on High Times.

Report Projects Puerto Rican Recreational Cannabis Market Worth Over $500 Million

A pro cannabis trade group in Puerto Rico is hoping to advance the discussion of full recreational cannabis reform on the island. To this end, they have just released a report which predicts how recreational cannabis legalization might benefit the U.S. territory, located just southeast of Cuba. According to the analysis, the maturation of the industry here would take about five years and would take a trajectory seen in the development of the casino vertical, which developed here in the early decades of the twentieth century.

The island is not the only jurisdiction to consider this kind of economic development, particularly post-Pandemic. Nor is it the only popular tourist destination. This segment of the economy is, however, critically important to the island’s economy and has become increasingly so during the second decade of this century. It currently accounts for 10% of the total economy. Indeed, before COVID, much of the critical infrastructure was damaged thanks to Hurricane Maria and tourism was used to rebuild the island.

Beyond this, the island is no stranger to the production of other recreational commodities. This includes the world’s largest rum distillery, the Bacardi factory, located in Cataño. It is also increasingly a crypto firm haven. Because of Donald Trump, 98% of the land on the island is currently considered an “opportunity zone” designed specifically to bring foreign investors here.

Cannabis Reform in Puerto Rico

Cannabis has been illegal in Puerto Rico since 1932 when Act 12 specifically outlawed the same. Penalties for planting, importation, purchase, and sale of the plant ranged from a one month to one year in jail.

In 2013, right after the success of two American state referendums in Colorado and Washington State, Representative José Luis Báez proposed decriminalization. The Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, signed medical cannabis reform two years later.

This reform includes allowing patients to have a 30-day supply of the drug, but not in smokeable form. Home grow remains illegal, and patients must purchase their meds through state-licensed dispensaries. There are an estimated 115,000 Puerto Rican patients.

The Legal Status of The Island

Puerto Rico is today an unincorporated U.S. territory. It is not a state. How U.S. federal law is interpreted here is also a hotly contested topic. According to what some consider highly racist decisions enshrined in Supreme Court case law and handed down in the early part of the last century, the island, along with the Philippines and Guam, are places where constitutional rights enjoyed within the continental U.S. and incorporated territories do not apply. Indeed, according to these legal precedents, the U.S. Constitution applies within the United States proper, the District of Columbia and “incorporated territories” while only the “fundamental limitations” apply in unincorporated ones.

What this means when it comes to things like the constitutional rights of states (see the earliest cannabis reform at the state level as a constitutional amendment at this level), cannabis is certainly in a very strange gray zone.

Displacement of Locals?

One of the tragic impacts of the last hurricane was that in its aftermath, residents were often forced to sell their homes and for a variety of reasons. This has led to investment banks buying large tracts of distressed real estate here over the past several years and locals being unable to afford to live here (or at least own property and sustain a decent standard of living). This has also led to local protests against foreign development, including the privatization of public resources, like beaches.

The development of a cannabis industry in this kind of environment may well prove profitable for foreign firms. How it would benefit the local population in terms of sustainable economic redevelopment is another matter.

The post Report Projects Puerto Rican Recreational Cannabis Market Worth Over $500 Million appeared first on High Times.

Just Announced – High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022

We’re proud to announce that our newest cannabis cup competition will be uniting the many unique products in Massachusetts! The state is already home to a blossoming cannabis industry with plenty of unique products to experience.

Products can be submitted for consideration at NETA dispensaries in Franklin, MA. between September 7-9. Kits will be sold starting on September 24 (first come, first serve availability). Judges will have until November 13 to check out and review everything Massachusetts cannabis companies have to offer, and the winners of the cup will be announced on November 27 through a digital awards show.

Massachusetts Cannabis Cup Entry Categories:

  1. Indica Flower (28 total slots available; 2 entries Max per Company)
  2. Sativa Flower (28 total slots available; 2 entries Max per Company)
  3. Hybrid Flower (28 total slots available; 2 entries Max per Company)
  4. Pre-Rolls (10 total slots available; 1 entries Max per Company)
  5. Concentrates (10 total slots available; 1  entries Max per Company)
  6. Distillate Vape Pens & Cartridges (10  total slots available; 1 entries Max per Company)
  7. NON-Distillate Vape Pens & Cartridges (10  total slots available; 1 entries Max per Company)
  8. Edibles: Sativa Gummies (10 total slots available with 50mg THC max; 1 entries Max per Company)
  9. Edibles: Indica Gummies (10 total slots available with 50mg THC max; 1 entries Max per Company)
  10. Edibles: Chocolate Non-Gummies (10 total slots available with 50mg THC max; 1 entries Max per Company)
  11. Edibles: Fruity Non-Gummies (10 total slots available with 50mg THC max; 1 entries Max per Company
  12. Edibles: Beverages (10 total slots available with 50mg THC max; 1 entries Max per Company)
  13. Topicals + Tinctures + Capsules (10 total slots available; 1 entries Max per Company)

Once the judges have submitted their feedback, we’ll announce the first place winners that have earned themselves the renowned High Times Cannabis Cup trophy—an honorable award that proves that their product rises above the rest of the competition.

Courtesy of NETA

The trophy, which was designed by Alex and Allyson Grey, is made of zinc and 24K gold plating. First-place winners will also be given a full page advertisement in High Times magazine, a complete report of the competition scores and comment feedback, winner decals to place on your product packaging, a mention in our online article featuring the winners of the High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022 (as well as being recorded as a winner on cannabiscup.com) and of course, inclusion of the winning brands for each category on High Times social media channels (shared on the High Times timeline, story and story highlights).

Second place winners will receive a silver medal made of pewter and a silver ribbon with your winning category inscribed on it, as well as a half-page advertisement in High Times magazine, second place art assets for product packaging (along with all of the aforementioned judge’s report, and inclusion of the win online and on social media).

Third place winners will receive a bronze medal, made from pewter and bronze plating, with a matching bronze ribbon and the winning category inscribed on it, and a half-page advertisement in High Times magazine as well.

Even the products that do not win first, second, or third place in their respective categories can win in other ways. All products and brands will be included and tagged on social media in order to support Massachusetts cannabis companies and everything they bring to the table. During our Awards Show, we also do a shout-out and thank all competitors for participating in our competition. Best of all, the High Times Report is available upon request, should you like to learn more about what the judges thought of your product, and where it is ranked through our scoring system.

All products must be licensed by CCC and we cannot accept caregiver product.

A special thanks to our official intake partner, NETA.


The post Just Announced – High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition 2022 appeared first on High Times.

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