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Jay-Z is heading into the legal marijuana industry as a chief brand strategist in partnership with a California cannabis product company.

The rapper said in a statement July 9, 2019, that he entered a multiyear deal with San Jose, California-based Caliva. His role will consist of driving creative direction, outreach efforts, and strategy for the brand.

Jay-Z says he also wants to increase the economic participation of people returning from incarceration through job training and workforce development.

The rapper called Caliva “the best partners for this endeavor.”

Caliva operates a farm in Northern California and a dispensary in San Jose. It also distributes its branded products in roughly two dozen other retail outlets in the state.

NFL legend Joe Montana's venture capital firm took part in a $75 million investment in Caliva in January 2019.

North Dakota Clears Way for Pardons on Pot Offenses

North Dakota is moving to allow people with low-level marijuana convictions to apply for pardons and have their records wiped clean if they avoid unlawful behavior for five years.

Republicans Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem both supported the plan adopted July 10, 2019, by the state pardon advisory board.

North Dakota joins other states and cities nationwide that are trying to fix problems the convictions have caused for people trying to find jobs and housing.

North Dakota's plan doesn't go as far as some others in automatically dismissing or pardoning convictions, as had been done in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Stockton in California, or Chicago's Cook County in Illinois. Instead, people applying for pardons would have to fill out an online form. The deadline for the first round of applications is Aug. 10, 2019.

Stenehjem said as many as 175,000 marijuana convictions over several decades could be eligible.

Appeals Court Rules Against Florida Officials on Medical Marijuana

A Florida appellate court ruled that the state's approach to regulating marijuana is unconstitutional, possibly allowing more providers to jump into a market positioned to become one of the country's most lucrative.

If the ruling stands, it could force state officials to lift existing caps on how many medical marijuana treatment centers can operate in Florida.

The ruling July 9, 2019, by the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee was another setback for Florida officials trying to regulate the burgeoning marijuana industry more tightly. It mostly affirmed a lower court's ruling that the caps and operational requirements violated the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016.

Ever since the law has been a subject of debate in the Legislature and courts. It was unclear whether Florida officials would appeal the ruling.

"When 71 percent of Floridians voted for access to this life-changing medicine, they didn't expect restrictive legislation that stood in the way of progress and open markets," said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.

--  Bobby Caina Calvanow 

Arkansas' 6th Medical Marijuana Dispensary Set to Open

A sixth medical marijuana dispensary in Arkansas has been approved to open for business and will likely begin sales by July 11 or 12, 2019.

Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said Fiddler's Green in Mountain View was approved by Alcoholic Beverage Control inspectors.

CEO Lisa Murphy said Fiddler's Green employees are packaging the marijuana and the store hopes to sell its available product of flower, gummies, and wax in a few days. She also says vape pens, and tinctures should arrive in the coming weeks.

The dispensary is the sixth of 32 businesses that have been licensed to sell medical marijuana.


Feature image: Jay-Z is heading into the marijuana industry as a chief brand strategist for a cannabis product company. He said in a statement July 9, 2019, that he entered a multi-year deal with San Jose, California-based Caliva. His role will consist of driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand. (Invision/Associated Press file photo by Amy Harris)

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