On Tuesday The US State Department made a statement that WNBA star Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained in Russia.
This statement implies that the US will escalate efforts for Griner’s release from a pre trial detention center near Moscow where she has been detained for over two months.
The case has been moved to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which is tasked with negotiating the release of Americans being held hostage and others classified as being wrongfully detained in other countries.
Griner, 31, was arrested at the Moscow airport for allegedly having cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. She faces five to 10 years in Russian prison if convicted on drug smuggling charges.
Chris Webber launches ‘Players Only’
Chris Webber, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, and Lavetta Willis, an entrepreneur, have announced the launch of their cannabis brand, Players Only, and they have recruited other famous people to help promote it.
The new superstar label was unveiled for the first time on August 11. The store, which will be called “Players Only,” will sell weed of many different varieties, as well as vape pens, pre-rolled joints, and other sports recovery and performance aids. Players Only is also releasing a line of branded clothing and shoes.
By acquiring Gage Growth Corp in March, TerrAscend became the sole distributor of Players Only products in Michigan, clearing the door for the launch of the brand.
Webber argued that “Players Only” was more than just a cannabis company. “We really do have a once-in-a-generation chance to alter the cannabis narrative, encourage budding business owners, and establish a new benchmark for this dynamic sector. We are excited to introduce our diverse products and services and get started on the path toward bringing about lasting economic improvement in neighborhoods all around Michigan. We want to give a shout out to our Michigan relatives, TerrAscend and Gage. Take care, Berner and Cookies; we’re leaving.
Webber announced a Detroit marijuana complex in October 2017 that included a grow room, dispensary, and VIP smoking area. The Players Only facility, which is 180,000 square feet in size, is known as the Webber Wellness Compound.
C4, Time Out, G.O.A.T.’s Milk, Non-Laters, and Whipped Cherries are among the first strains to hit the market. Within a matter of weeks, new strains from the brand, such as Blueberry Hotcakes and Ray Jackson’s Black Sox, will be available for purchase. In comparison to the hashy, Afghani vibe that C4 can give off, reviewers agree that the sativa-leaning G.O.A.T.’s Milk has an optimal ratio of THC to CBD. On the other hand, whipped cherries are just how you’d imagine them to be.
Lavetta Willis, co-founder and President of Players Only, said, “We have been working with legacy cultivators and operators wanting to establish their place in the regulated market for quite some time.” Incorporating legacy strains and expertise into the Players Only platform and menu helps us move closer to our ultimate goal of recognizing and celebrating the contributions of black business owners who have built successful brands and intellectual assets throughout the years.
Compliments of the Chef and Raekwon’s collaboration with Citizen Grown were both revealed alongside the collaboration with the company. Similarly, Hassim Robinson and Winner’s Circle Genetics have teamed up to introduce the PB&J strain and Quavo’s BIRKINZ to the Michigan cannabis market. Detroit native Royce da 5’9′′ will release his “Heaven” label as part of a network of free trade zones (NFT), and the “Lil Stupid” brand, which has been around for a while, will enter the adult-use market for the first time. White Chocolate will also be introduced by Webber’s former colleague on the Sacramento Kings, Jason Williams.
Along with starting “The Smoke” with business partner and co-host Stephen Jackson, Webber recently hired former NBA great and teammate Matt Barnes as Chief Collaborations Officer. The name of the product is a reference to the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME series created by Barnes and Jackson.
In their podcast, “All the Smoke,” “the loud and unapologetic NBA champions, give authentic, unvarnished viewpoint on the most polarizing themes in and outside the game of basketball, including culture, social justice, politics, music, and more.”
New episodes of “All the Smoke” are released weekly on Thursdays.
Starting with the Players Only x Packwoods 2.5-gram Blunt, available at select retailers, the brand will be introduced to the public.
LeBron James Calls for Brittney Griner’s Release from Russian Prison
NBA superstar LeBron James on Sunday called on the U.S. government to work to secure the release of WNBA champion and Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian prison on a cannabis possession charge for nearly four months.
“We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together,” James wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
James also shared a message from his brand Uninterrupted that calls on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to work for Griner’s release. The post also encouraged readers to learn more about the case online.
“For over 100 days, BG has faced inhumane conditions in a Russian prison and has been denied communications with her family and loved ones,” reads a message from Uninterrupted that was included in the social media post. “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.”
James also posted a link to an online petition hosted by Change.org that maintains that “Griner is a beloved global citizen who has used her platform since her entry into the WNBA to help others.” James encouraged fans to share and sign the petition, which had collected more than 250,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Olympic and WNBA Superstar
Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, including the team’s 2014 league championship squad. She has also twice won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team.
Griner has played seven seasons of professional basketball in Russia during the winter, a common practice among WNBA players. She earns about $1 million per season to play in Russia, about four times the salary she earns playing for the WNBA. On January 29, Griner played her most recent game with her team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the Russian league took a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
The Russian Customs Service reported on March 5 that an American women’s basketball player had been detained after cannabis vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. The date of the arrest was not given and Griner was not named in the report. The customs also released a video that appeared to show Griner with security officials at an airport security checkpoint.
The Russian state news agency TASS subsequently reported that the arrested player was Griner. Although the date of Griner’s arrest was not announced, media outlets reported that she has been in custody since February 17. After news of the arrest made headlines, the WNBA and the players’ union issued messages of support for the star athlete.
“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league wrote in a statement after Griner’s arrest was announced by Russian media.
Griner’s arrest by Russian authorities has led to an outcry from lawmakers, cannabis advocates, celebrities, and fellow athletes. Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas, the star athlete’s home state, said on March 9 that he was looking into Griner’s arrest.
“My office has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward,” said Allred, as quoted by ESPN. “I know the administration is working hard to try and get access to her and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of really strained relations. I do think that it’s really unusual that we’ve not been granted access to her from our embassy and our consular services.”
A month after her arrest, Russian authorities announced that Griner’s detention would be extended for two months. TASS reported on March 17 that Griner was being held in an undisclosed Russian prison pending further investigation of the case. The news agency also said that Ekaterina Kalugina of the human rights group Public Monitoring Commission, a quasi-official body with access to Russian prisons, had visited Griner. Kalugina reported that Griner was doing well and being held in humane conditions.
In May, the U.S. Department of State reclassified Griner’s status, saying that she had been “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.
“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” the State Department wrote in an email to ESPN. “With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”
Since then, however, the status of Griner’s case has remained unchanged, prompting the renewed calls for her release from James on Sunday.
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‘Cannabis Buyers Club’ Documentary Featured at Tribeca Film Festival
The dawn of the movement to legalize weed in the United States is explored in a new documentary film series, which made its world premiere this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. Cannabis Buyers Club, the story of pot dealer, cannabis reform leader and queer rights activist Dennis Peron, debuted at the world-renowned film festival on Monday, with a repeat showing planned for tonight.
“Cannabis Buyers Club chronicles the most important unknown LGBTQ+ rights struggle of the 20th century,” reads a synopsis of the film shared by the Tribeca Film Festival. “When a new disease ravages his community and the government doesn’t care, renegade pot dealer Dennis Peron leads a movement to help, heal, and fight back. Peron, a gay Vietnam vet, builds a pot empire in the middle of the war on drugs and fights politicians and police to save his friends. The definitive story of marijuana legalization in America.”
The four-part documentary series was directed by Kip Andersen and Chris O’Connell, who also served as the film’s producer. In the opening episode, the film follows Peron’s introduction to cannabis as a reluctant soldier in Vietnam. Eschewing alcohol as a “war drug,” the pacifist instead turned to pot when it was time for his unit to take R & R.
From Vietnam To The Castro
Not long before his tour in Vietnam ended, Peron traveled to Thailand, where he bought five or six pounds of some of the best cannabis in the world. Then, assigned to the base mail room after returning to his unit, he began sending weed back to the United States hidden in cassette tape cases. After returning to America and taking up residence in San Francisco, Peron’s foray into the underground pot industry continued in earnest.
His involvement in the community and political activism put Peron at the front of the effort to legalize weed in San Francisco, where he counted gay activist and later county supervisor Harvey Milk among his many allies. Selling pot from storefronts in the Castro, Peron’s will to champion cannabis policy reform was galvanized by the AIDS epidemic, which took the lives of his partner and countless others and left his friends and neighbors wasting away. Cannabis stimulated patients’ appetites and helped keep from losing weight, prolonging their lives.
In the early 1990s, Peron founded the Cannabis Buyers Club in San Francisco, giving patients and their caregivers a safe place to obtain the medicine they needed. In 1996, he co-authored Proposition 215, the landmark ballot measure that legalized the medical use of cannabis in California.
“In order to unpack the stories of Cannabis Buyers Club, you have to know the mood of San Francisco at that time, as well as the events that led to Dennis becoming this controversial guy,” Andersen and O’Connell write in their directors’ statement. “These events could only have happened in San Francisco, which stars in this film alongside Dennis and other colorful characters: Brownie Mary, Tony Sera, Joe Banon, Greg Corrales. It was the perfect political storm where the AIDS crisis crashed into the drug war and a liberal city fought against a conservative state and won. Precedents were set in justice, the repercussions of which are still felt today, with new states legalizing marijuana every year.”
Peron suffered a stroke in 2010, making it difficult for him to speak. His health declining, Peron shared his life story with the filmmakers behind Cannabis Buyers Club in the last interviews before his death in 2018.
“A few months into making this film, Dennis, the controversial protagonist and hero died,” wrote O’Connell and Andersen. “We were with him in his bedroom days before, cameras rolling hearing the story from him. We remember that last interview. He told us how he used to walk right into Dianne Feinstein’s office when she was mayor of San Francisco. He could do that, well, because he kind of ran that city then.”
Cannabis Buyers Club Screening At Tribeca Film Festival
In addition to the June 16 screening of Cannabis Buyers Club, the Tribeca Film Festival is hosting virtual access to the documentary for viewing at home, which began on June 15. The festival started on June 8 and closes on Sunday, June 19.
“This 2022 feature film program leaves us proud and humbled by the boundless ingenuity and passion of our indefatigable filmmaking community,” festival director and vice president of programming Cara Cusumano said in a press release when this year’s selections were revealed in April. “Whether a comedic breath of fresh air or a trenchant expose of the most urgent contemporary issues, this year’s official selections again remind us of the vitality and urgency of independent film in a world that needs it more than ever.”
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