In this week’s cannabis news round-up, supermodel Gigi Hadid was arrested and pleaded guilty to cannabis possession; Philip Morris to acquire Israeli firm for up to $650M; Ukraine takes first step towards medical cannabis; and Berner teams up with the Last Prisoner project for Release Papers.
Gigi Hadid Arrested for Cannabis Possession in Cayman Islands
Gigi Hadid’s recent trip to the Cayman Islands took an unexpected turn when Customs & Border Control agents discovered cannabis and drug paraphernalia during a routine luggage scan and subsequent hand search in her luggage. The supermodel was reportedly arrested and fined $1,000 for the incident.
Hadid had flown to the tropical destination on a private jet for a girls’ trip from the US on July 10. Leah Nicole McCarthy, another member of Hadid’s group, had similar items in her bags and was arrested, too.
Following their detention, both women were released on bail and later appeared in a Summary Court on July 12. They pleaded guilty to the charges and neither had the conviction recorded.
After news of her arrest circulated, Hadid turned to Instagram to seemingly shrug off the incident. She posted a carousel of photos and videos from her vacation later that day and captioned it with, “All’s well that ends well.”
In response to the incident, a representative for Hadid said, “Gigi was traveling with cannabis purchased legally in New York City with a medical license. It has also been legal for medical use in Grand Cayman since 2017. Her record remains clear, and she enjoyed the rest of her time on the island.”
Philip Morris to Acquire Israeli Cannabis Firm for $650M
The multinational tobacco giant, Philip Morris International, is reportedly acquiring Israeli cannabis tech firm Syqe Medical in a deal worth up to $650 million.
Syqe Medical’s flagship product is a precise, pharmaceutical-grade inhaler that enables patients to measure exact doses of medical cannabis.
As part of the agreement, Philip Morris will initially invest $120 million in Syqe Medical.
Subsequently, if Syqe Medical’s inhaler receives approval from the US Food and Drug Administration after clinical trials, Philip Morris will acquire the remaining Syqe shares, totaling the agreed-upon $650 million.
If this deal passes, it’d be one of the most significant investments made by a tobacco producer in the cannabis industry in recent years and would position the Israeli company as one of the most valuable cannabis firms globally.
Ukraine Parliament Takes First Step in Approving Medical Cannabis Bill
Ukraine’s parliament has given its initial approval to a medical cannabis legalization bill. The legislation will now proceed to a second reading, subject to potential amendments and finalization by lawmakers, before reaching President Volodymyr Zelensky for his signature.
The proposed law aims to provide medical relief for conditions like PTSD, cancer pain, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
The draft law, supported by the Ministry of Health and backed by President Zelensky, envisions a licensing system for the cultivation of medical cannabis strains. It emphasizes strict monitoring throughout the production and distribution process, with each batch of medical cannabis labeled with a unique barcode for transparent tracking across the supply chain.
People’s Deputy Iryna Herashchenko shared her perspective on the bill via the social media platform Telegram, highlighting the significance of regulating cannabis cultivation on an industrial scale and addressing potential corruption issues related to permits and financial flows. She also stressed the importance of tackling corruption and implementing proper controls to ensure responsible cultivation and drug prevention measures.
The proposed reforms have garnered considerable support among Ukrainians, with 65% of the population expressing approval in a poll conducted during the local elections in October 2022. If successfully passed, Ukraine will take a significant step towards offering medical cannabis treatment options under state-controlled regulations.
Berner Teams with the Last Prisoner Project for Release Papers
Vibes, the rolling paper brand founded by rapper and cannabis mogul Berner, has joined forces with the Last Prisoner Project and creative company Mother to unveil Release Papers to raise awareness and support for cannabis prisoner reform.
The campaign addresses a concerning reality—countless individuals remain incarcerated with lengthy sentences for cannabis-related offenses, even as several states have legalized cannabis, leaving them behind bars for non-violent acts.
Specifically, Release Papers brings attention to the stories of four individuals with unjust sentences for non-violent cannabis-related crimes: Edwin Rubis, serving a 40-year sentence in Talladega, AL.; Hector McGurk, facing a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent cannabis offense in Victorville, CA.; Moe Taher, sentenced to 25 years for selling cannabis in Welch, WV.; and Ricardo Ashmeade, serving a 22-year sentence in Pollock, LA.
“Campaigns like this are part of who I am,” Berner said in a press release. “We must speak up, stand next to and support causes like Last Prisoner Project. I’ve helped raise awareness for Richard Delisi, Corvain Cooper and soon, Robert Deals. There are so many more people to fight for and I need your help to fight for their freedom.”
Set to launch on July 24th, 2023, Release Papers will be available in smoke shops nationwide and online at vibespapers.com. Head to release-papers.com to sign the Cannabis Clemency Now petition urging President Biden to release federal cannabis prisoners and participate in the letter-writing program, which sends letters to the four featured inmates. (Full Story)