Brittney Griner was released following a prisoner exchange, Connecticut pardoned 44,000 cannabis convictions, and Massachusetts instituted the first cannabis impairment driving program in the U.S.
Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews.
WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner Released From Russian Prison
After 10 long months in Russian custody, Brittney Griner is finally free! The WNBA superstar was part of a prisoner exchange that released Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout—dubbed “The Merchant of Death”—from American custody.
Griner’s arrest originally occurred back in March when Russian Federal Customs officials found vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The incident took place in the early stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The exchange did not include American Paul Whelan who was imprisoned nearly four years ago on espionage charges. Regarding Whelan’s exclusion, Biden said, “This was not a choice of which American to bring home.” Biden told the media that Russia, “…for totally illegitimate reasons…is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up.”
Paul’s brother, David Whelan, shared his support for the exchange, saying, “I am so glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home. As the family member of a Russian hostage, I can literally only imagine the joy she will have, being reunited with her loved ones, and in time for the holidays.”
With Griner back home, the focus has shifted to ensuring she gets all the mental-health support she needs. Griner’s agent Linda Kagawa Colas said the athlete’s psychological care will focus on ensuring Griner gains a sense of control over her life again.
Though it remains uncertain when the former WNBA champion will return to the court, one thing is clear: Griner is ready to use her sway and influence to help other wrongfully imprisoned Americans.
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Connecticut’s Governor Pardons 44,000 Cannabis Convictions
Earlier this month, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont pardoned 44,000 cannabis convictions. The move is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to fully enact its 2021 adult-use cannabis law.
Pardons were given to people who:
- Have convictions for possession of 4 ounces or less of cannabis
- Whose convictions happened before Jan. 1st, 2000, or between Oct. 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021
- Those with convictions for possessing cannabis-related paraphernalia before July 1, 2021
- Those with convictions from before July 1, 2021, for the manufacturing, selling, or possession of cannabis with intent to sell—so far as the conviction involved 4 ounces of cannabis or less, or no more than six home-grown plants
With the pardons processed, Connecticut is now clear to launch its retail cannabis market. The state will open its first dispensaries sometime next year.
What do you think of Gov. Lamont’s move to pardon those with cannabis convictions? Do you see other governors following suit? Let us know in the comments!
Massachusetts Launches First-Ever Cannabis Impairment Driving Classes
Massachusetts is set to become the first state in the U.S. to add lessons about cannabis impairment to its driver’s education programs.
The new program, titled “Shifting Gears: the Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving,” seeks to educate drivers with research-based information about THC’s effects on cognition, vision, reaction time, perception, and distance. The curriculum was created with the help of roadside assistance giant AAA.
Massachusetts officials expect the program to reach approximately 50,000 young drivers across 700 schools every year.
What do you think of Massachusetts’ new curriculum? Would you like to see it taught in your state? Let us know in the comments!
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