Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas is a multimedia reporter who covers Missouri's cannabis industry. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she has been reporting in Missouri since 2001, including more than a decade as senior reporter and video producer at the St. Louis American, the nation’s leading African-American newspaper.

Missouri official vows to conduct survey on cannabis business demographics

By: - July 14, 2023

For the first time, a state official has publicly vowed to push for a demographics survey of cannabis business owners — addressing a key criticism of the medical marijuana program that the Black community was left out of the burgeoning billion-dollar industry. At a June 22 outreach event in St. Louis, Abigail Vivas, chief equity […]

Missouri governor signs bills impacting cannabis banking, employee background checks

By: - July 7, 2023

Missouri’s marijuana businesses will have fewer obstacles when it comes to accessing banking, but they must now get fingerprint background checks from all their new employees and contractors, under legislation that the governor signed on Thursday. Few banks nationwide serve cannabis businesses and their owners — or even their auxiliary partners  — because most want […]

Missouri holds outreach events in run up to cannabis microbusiness license lottery

By: - June 28, 2023

Missouri’s cannabis industry is the new “gold rush,” said St. Louis couple Tiffany and Anwar Lee, and they’re considering buying a ticket for the lottery to get in. Their ticket is a $1,500 application fee for a spot in a lottery making them eligible for a limited number of cannabis microbusiness licenses, and it’s refundable […]

Missouri to be testing ground on plain packaging for cannabis products

By: - June 22, 2023

For decades, there’s been a global movement urging “plain packaging” on tobacco products — or packaging with limited colors and frills — after numerous studies found it makes cigarettes less appealing to young people.  Missouri will soon be a testing ground to see if plain packaging has the same impact for recreational marijuana. When voters […]

Missouri ‘micro’ cannabis license rules limit review of jail data to 20 years

By: - June 19, 2023

In St. Louis in the 1980s, if you got caught with even a “butt of a joint,” you were going to do jail time, said Bob Ramsey, who was assistant public defender at the time.   Ramsey particularly remembers the head of the prosecutor’s marijuana task force, under then-Circuit Attorney George Peach.  “She was just absolutely […]

Juneteenth events grow statewide, as advocates celebrate progress on reparations

By: - June 16, 2023

As Missourians go out to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend and commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, local advocates say they may feel a new sense of hope brewing.  In the past year, the state’s two major cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, have established reparations commissions. These groups of community members are […]

Where does the revenue from Missouri marijuana sales and license fees go?

By: - May 31, 2023

Since Missouri’s marijuana sales began in 2019, the state has collected nearly $100 million in revenue from taxes and program fees, according to state authorities.  Etched in the state’s constitution is a road map for where the revenue can go.  The first stop is operational costs. By law, any expense it takes to run both […]

New rules stir fear Black Missourians will once again lose out in marijuana licensing

By: - May 30, 2023

When a marijuana legalization amendment was being criticized last year over concerns it would calcify the lack of Black participation in the burgeoning industry, Adolphus Pruitt was one of its most vociferous defenders. Pruitt, the president of the St. Louis City NAACP, and other local NAACP leaders insisted the constitutional amendment establish a “microbusiness license” […]

Workers picket Columbia dispensary in push to unionize Missouri marijuana workers

By: and - May 17, 2023

A few days before the unofficial marijuana holiday of April 20, as retailers prepared for the biggest sales day since legalization, Austin Monroe says he was fired by Shangri La South dispensary in Columbia. Monroe is one of 16 employees of the cannabis dispensary who signed an organizing petition seeking union representation by Local 655 […]

Missouri marijuana businesses improve access to banks under bill heading to governor

By: - May 12, 2023

Missouri’s marijuana businesses would have fewer obstacles when it comes to accessing banking, under legislation approved Thursday. Few banks nationwide serve cannabis businesses and their owners — or even their auxiliary partners  — because most want nothing to do with a business that sells a product the federal government still considers illegal. That’s true even […]

Missouri legislators vote to require fingerprint background checks for cannabis employees

By: - May 11, 2023

Everyone working in Missouri’s cannabis industry would be required to submit to a fingerprint background check under legislation approved Thursday. Under the constitutional amendment that voters passed in November to legalize recreational marijuana, only the owners of cannabis companies are required to submit their fingerprints to the Missouri Highway Patrol for a criminal background check. […]

(Photo by Rebecca Rivas/The Missouri Independent)

Marijuana industry, state regulators at odds over rules targeting packaging aimed at kids

By: - May 8, 2023

The labels and packaging for marijuana-related products, “shall not be made to be attractive to children,” the Missouri constitution states. That’s why state regulators are proposing requiring “plain or uniform labeling,” similar to those of cigarettes or medicines, said Amy Moore, director of Missouri’s cannabis regulation under the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. […]