WNBA star Brittney Griner got a trial date, medical cannabis was deemed “recession-proof,” and the SAFE Banking Act stumbled once again.
Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews.
Brittney Griner’s Trial to Begin July 1
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s trial in Russian court is officially set to start this Friday. Griner has been under custody for the last four months following an arrest for alleged cannabis possession at a Moscow airport.
As part of the announcement, Russian officials also ordered Griner to remain under custody for the remainder of the trial. If convicted, Griner could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Given Russia’s historically tough criminal justice system in which fewer than 1% of defendants are acquitted, however, Griner’s outlook is not so positive.
Experts familiar with Griner’s case said the trial and subsequent conviction are expected as part of a larger move to pressure the U.S. into a prisoner exchange. According to Russian news outlets, arms trader Viktor “The Merchant of Death” Bout could be the prisoner on the U.S. side of the deal. Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence for conspiracy to kill a U.S. citizen and aiding a terrorist organization.
Others have proposed a joint deal that frees former U.S. Marine and security director Paul Whelan as well as Griner. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia over espionage charges. When asked about the package deal, however, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he could not comment “in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”
What do you think of the developments in Griner’s case? Do you think the U.S. is doing enough to free her? Let us know in the comments!
European Medical Cannabis Market Deemed ‘Recession-Proof’
With fears of an oncoming recession running rampant, investors in Europe’s young cannabis market have become more cautious about where they’re putting their money. The report comes from Bloomberg, which reached out to various European investment firms to get their take on the short-term future of the cannabis market.
The overwhelming expectation is that a recession will force many start-up cannabis businesses to go under. Some, like Hanway Associates’ Alastair Moore, however, say this is not an entirely bad thing: “This period will be really good for clearing out those who were just trying to make a quick buck,” said Moore. “That’s a good thing for the sector.”
In spite of the dark outlook for the market, experts have expressed their belief that medical cannabis will be able to weather the storm. One of these medical cannabis believers is Enxis AB’s David Bonnier, who said the industry is not as sensitive to recessions because “most patients still need their medications, and they’re still gonna go see their doctors—no matter if we’re in a recession or not.”
Bonnier’s confidence in the medical market is shared by cannabis industry research firm Prohibition Partners. According to the firm, the UK’s cannabis industry is projected to be worth around $1.2 billion (even with a recession) if the country decides to legalize medical-use cannabis this year.
What do you think of experts’ take that the medical market is “recession-proof”? Let us know in the comments!
SAFE Banking Stumbles Again
In a major setback for cannabis advocates in the U.S., Congress has announced that the SAFE Banking Act will not be included in the forthcoming China Competition Bill. The SAFE Banking Act would’ve allowed legally operating businesses to access banking services that have become crucial in the wake of increasing dispensary-targeted robberies.
According to Punch Bowl, the decision came after Republican negotiators made it known that they would not vote for the China Competition Bill if the Safe Banking Act was included. In the GOP’s mind, it made no sense to include anything cannabis-related in the bill.
Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter, the SAFE Banking Act’s lead sponsor, voiced his discontent at the GOP’s decision to exclude the measure: “In the wake of the Senate’s inaction, people continue to be killed, businesses continue to be robbed, and employees and business owners in the cannabis industry continue to be excluded from the financial system.”
The pressure is now on Democrats to get cannabis reform across the finish line. Failing to do so could lead to devastating consequences ahead of the midterm elections.
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