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Missouri’s Cannabis Microbusiness License Plan Excludes St. Louis’ Black Communities
Local leaders in Missouri are voicing concerns about the distribution of and requirements for the state’s upcoming cannabis microbusiness licenses.
According to the Missouri Independent, critics argue that the ZIP codes do not accurately represent areas most affected by marijuana criminalization, contradicting the initial goal of the microbusiness license program to foster economic opportunities in these communities.
Additionally, critics point out that there has been a lack of education and outreach on the program, leaving many potential applicants in the dark about eligibility requirements and the application process.
Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis City NAACP, was initially a strong advocate for the creation of a “microbusiness license” program designed to award marijuana licenses to business owners in communities predominantly affected by cannabis criminalization. This was presumed to include largely Black communities.
However, of the 121 ZIP codes listed as qualifying due to historic high rates of incarceration for marijuana-related offenses, only nine are located in the St. Louis region, and none are in North St. Louis, home to about half of the state’s Black population.
Three ZIP codes were assigned to P.O. boxes and institutions with high mail traffic.
The covered residential areas include downtown St. Louis and Clayton, both of which are far from representative of the communities the microbusiness license program was intended to support.
“Listen, not today, not if it’s legal and not even when it was illegal, will you find a bunch of Black people smoking weed in the middle of Clayton,” Pruitt told the outlet. “There is no way in the world the people in Clayton have been arrested more than the people who live in North St. Louis. It’s impossible.”
Pruitt’s concerns about the eligibility rules were echoed by Nimrod Chapel, president of the Missouri NAACP.
“This is exactly what we were afraid of,” Chapel said.
The state’s Division of Cannabis Regulation, which is part of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which oversees the marijuana program, responded to the review stating it stands by the list and believes the mechanism for determining eligible ZIP codes is the most effective.
Amy Moore, the director of the division, explained in an email response that the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which was the data source for mapping out the areas, maintains the only comprehensive incarceration data set that can be applied uniformly across the state.
However, the Independent highlighted a disconnect between the DHSS’s account and that of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Lt. Eric Brown, spokesman for the highway patrol, clarified that certain ZIP codes in downtown St. Louis that are assigned to single addresses or P.O. boxes were not included in the information provided to DHSS.
The full extent of this discrepancy is not yet clear, as Brown recommended directing further questions about the issue to the agency, which is in charge of the rules.
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Business, Public
Tilray’s Withdrawal from Bob Marley Licensing Deal Triggers Lawsuit
Courtesy photo.
Docklight Brands Inc. filed a complaint against cannabis giant Tilray Inc., accusing the company of backing out of a deal to sell Bob Marley-branded cannabis products in Canada.
Docklight alleges that the move cost it licensing fees, royalties, and eventually the Bob Marley license itself, according to an amended complaint filed on May 31, Law 360 reported.
The dispute dates back to a licensing agreement in February 2018 between Docklight and Tilray subsidiary High Park Holdings to sell and market the products. The lawsuit claims that after Tilray merged with Aphria, High Park halted required quarterly payments.
High Park justified the delayed payments as a result of Tilray’s new management familiarizing themselves with the agreement. However, Docklight disputes this, arguing that Tilray’s executives had already reviewed the agreement during the merger’s due diligence process.
Tilray later communicated to Docklight its intentions to withdraw from the deal unless Docklight made certain concessions. The cannabis firm argued that the license was “too expensive,” despite its reported $376 million cash reserves and claims of strong sales of the Marley-branded products.
In addition, Docklight alleges that High Park continued to sell the licensed products without making minimum royalty payments. High Park is also accused of further violating the agreement by failing to develop product or marketing plans, excluding the licensed products from press releases, and discontinuing product lines without notice or explanation.
Docklight said Tilray and High Park refused to provide sales statements as requested, with some documents only surfacing during the discovery process.
As a result, Docklight was unable to pay the licensing fees to the Marley estate, which subsequently terminated the license in April, even though Docklight expected to retain it for another two decades.
The complaint lodges a single claim for breach of contract. While the total damages remain undetermined, the lawsuit expects the financial loss to be substantial.
This isn’t the first instance where a company has faced issues with a Marley-branded cannabis product. Last year, Silo Wellness decided against moving forward with Marley One, citing lack of profits and insurance issues.
That led to the termination of the Marley One royalty agreement in 2022, which accrued a $2.65 million advertising fee for royalty payments due on the termination of the agreement. Silo then removed these liabilities from the balance sheet by divesting the subsidiary that carried the debt.
“It was a pointless endeavor for us to advance this asset given the Marley debt that was marooned in this subsidiary,” Silo Welness CEO Mike Arnold said in April. “We attempted to negotiate terms with the Bob Marley family as previously disclosed, to no avail.”
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