Sport Al Harrington and Matt Barnes speak to Real Sports on using their platforms to boost Black ownership of cannabis businesses
Not nice: Baron Cohen sues Massachusetts cannabis dispensary
BOSTON (AP) — Actor Sacha Baron Cohen has sued a Massachusetts cannabis dispensary he says used an image of his character Borat on a billboard without his permission, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Boston. The billboard for Somerset-based Solar Therapeutics Inc. showed Baron Cohen posing as Borat with two thumbs up and the words “It’s nice!” — one of Borat's catchphrases. “By use of the billboard, the defendants falsely have conveyed to the public that Mr. Baron Cohen has endorsed their products and is affiliated with their business,” according to the complaint filed Monday. “To the contrary, Mr. Baron Cohen never has used cannabis in his life.
HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel sometimes shines most when it’s taking on difficult topics, including, , , , and the former athletes as treatment for brain injuries. The psychedelic drugs segment was led by correspondent David Scott, who has been involved in many of Real Sports‘ tough stories recently (he also did the story on MMA weight cutting and ), and he has another interesting and somewhat related segment on the latest edition of Real Sports (premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, also available on HBO Max). This time, in a segment called “NBA Green Gold Rush,” Scott talks with former NBA players Al Harrington and Matt Barnes about their moves into the legal cannabis industry. Here’s a clip, which includes Harrington (seen above in the middle of one of his greenhouses talking with Scott) discussing his beginnings in this industry 10 years ago, and Harrington and Barnes both talking about marijuana usage in the NBA (with Barnes talking about smoking before games):
"Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen at the center of two major lawsuits in one week
A judge has thrown out a $95 million lawsuit against the actor, at the same time he sues a cannabis company Sacha Baron Cohen Rick Rycroft-Pool/Getty Images
The full segment is notable beyond that clip, though. Both Harrington and Barnes estimate that a majority of NBA players use cannabis (Harrington estimates eight in 10, Barnes says that he learned at one point almost half the league was on the NBA’s drug program after a positive test), and that’s interesting in and of itself (especially around wider conversations about leagues, but continued Olympic/World Anti-Doping Agency policies that ). But what’s maybe more interesting still is how both Harrington and Barnes talk about using their NBA money and their profile to help new Black entrepreneurs get into this space.
Cannabis may have originated in northwest China, study suggests
Cannabis' earliest roots may have stemmed from northwestern China -- not South Asia as commonly believed, according to a study published on Friday. © Guangpeng Ren A feral cannabis plant in the middle of a grassland in Qinghai province, central China. Researchers found the Cannabis sativa species -- the "much beloved and maligned plant" widely used as a recreational drug -- likely emerged from the region by Neolithic times (10,000-3,000 BC), according to a news release from the journal Science Advances, where the study was published.
As many have noted over the years, punishment for marijuana possession and usage has been disproportionately enacted against Black communities and other communities of color. Some of that dates back even to Richard Nixon’s administration and its start of the “War on drugs” (), and it had a lot to do with who people voted for, with former Nixon White House counsel and assistant to the president for domestic affairs telling Dan Baum ahead of that their drug policy actions were politically motivated:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Dems flood primary to face Ron Johnson in Wisconsin
The latest entrant, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Tuesday, brings the highest profile but isn't a field-clearer.Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes became the latest — and highest-profile — Democrat to join the Senate race when he officially launched his campaign Tuesday. Barnes, 34, is the state's first Black lieutenant governor and would be the first Black senator to represent Wisconsin if elected.
And an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)had some data on that, and on how the ratio of punished Black people is not improving despite growing legalization and decriminalization in the U.S.:
War on Drugs policies disproportionately target people of color and particularly Black people, and marijuana laws are a prime example. The proof is in the data: Nationwide, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana, despite similar usage rates. That’s roughly the same rate of disparity that existed seven years ago, when we released the first iteration of this report, The War on Marijuana in Black and White. In fact, since 2010 racial disparities actually worsened in 31 states.
So amongst all that, it’s certainly notable to see a couple of prominent former NBA players not only speaking out in favor of cannabis, but walking the talk, using their own money to try and help other minority businesspeople get into the legal cannabis business. Harrington has been doing that since launching ViolaBrands (named after his grandmother, who saw considerable improvement to her glaucoma from marijuana usage, as he tells Scott in this segment) in 2011, and Barnes has been doing so more recently, profiling former NBA players launching cannabis businesses on his All The Smoke Showtime Basketball video podcast (with Stephen Jackson) and looking to help others launch businesses in his hometown of Sacramento. There are big hurdles to doing that, though; Harrington tells Scott that the current marijuana industry only has an estimated four percent Black ownership, and that there are huge upfront costs with licensing, dispensaries, and growhouses.
Klobuchar proposes stripping Section 230 protections for 'health misinformation'
Senate Democrats introduced new legislation Thursday to hold social media platforms accountable for health-related misinformation during public health emergencies, a move that could cause more censorship during crises similar to the coronavirus pandemic. © Provided by Washington Examiner The Health Misinformation Act, introduced by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the controversial liability shield for user-generated content online.
“It’s very, very expensive to participate in the cannabis industry, and a lot of our people just don’t have those resources.”
Barnes says it’s crucial to make minority ownership happen given the way marijuana has often been weaponized against people of color.
“That’s why we have to do our part as people who have been able to make a little bit of money to use our platforms and use our resources to help people get into this space. …People lost their freedoms over it, families have been destroyed over this plant that was put here to help us.”
And Harrington says this is a crucial opportunity for restorative justice and community healing in the wake of those past injustices.
“It’s not only the people who are in jail, but it’s also all the people in the community who were affected as well. Our people really just deserve the opportunity to participate. …We want ownership this time around. You think about all the billions of dollars that will be generated in cannabis, the goal is for us to have enough of it that we can go back and invest in our communities.”
He says he envisions doing this for the rest of his life.
“This is going to be my life’s work. I don’t think I ever get to the point where I’m done and kick back. I think this is just something that’s going to consume me until I get to the next life.”
“NBA Green Gold Rush” is a thoughtful, nuanced, and well-done look at the subject, also including Scott interviewing one of the business owners Harrington is investing in and also including him asking Harrington and Barnes about why they want to be involved in this and how they’d react to people criticizing them using their fame this way. It’s a smart and insightful examination of the post-career ventures of these players, and it helps to show why they’re doing what they’re doing.
[; this month’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel premieres at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on HBO on July 27, and will also be available on HBO Max]
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Weed’s dirty secret: It’s an energy villain .
The rapid growth of marijuana legalization could imperil Biden’s climate goals.America’s patchwork approach to legalizing weed has helped make cannabis cultivation one of the most energy-intensive crops in the nation. And as states increasingly embrace marijuana, a growing source of greenhouse gases is going essentially unnoticed by climate hawks on Capitol Hill.