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.

Courts hopeful Missouri lawmakers can provide funds to help with marijuana expungements

By: - March 13, 2023

After three months of looking through old marijuana charges, Boone County Circuit Court Clerk Christy Blakemore — along with clerks and judges around the state — has come to a realization. There’s no quick way to wipe those records clean.  And, it’s going to take a lot more money for overtime to go through the […]

Open-container law for marijuana gets hearing in Missouri House

By: - March 10, 2023

A Missouri House committee discussed a bill Thursday meant to mirror Illinois’ open-container law for having marijuana in vehicles. The bill from Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico, would require all marijuana products in vehicles to be kept in odor-proof and child-proof containers.  “I don’t claim to be an expert on marijuana – I’ve never inhaled,” Haden […]

Federal judge rules Missouri’s ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’ unconstitutional

By: - March 7, 2023

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a controversial Missouri law — known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act — that penalizes police for enforcing federal gun laws. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Wimes ruled that the 2021 Missouri law is unconstitutional and “invalid, null, void, and of no effect.” “State and local law enforcement […]

Black leaders rally to speak out against bills to take away local control from St. Louis

By: - February 15, 2023

Black legislators and community leaders stood on the Missouri Capitol steps Wednesday to rally against GOP-backed bills seeking to expand state control over the police and prosecutor in St. Louis. The group of nearly 100 people gathered in Jefferson City — which included lawmakers in the Legislative Black Caucus alongside leaders of various organizations — […]

Lamar Johnson to be set free after decades in Missouri prison for murder he didn’t commit

By: - February 14, 2023

After spending nearly 30 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, a St. Louis judge on Tuesday ruled Lamar Johnson should be set free. “I spent quite a bit of time on this, and these questions are not easy,” said St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason, when he announced his decision in the […]

Family wants new prosecutor after man who killed their son in Fayette released on bond

By: - February 13, 2023

FAYETTE — Tears ran down Torrance Evans Sr.’s face, as he watched the freezing January rain pour down outside the Howard County Courthouse. “This isn’t justice,” he said, pausing to catch his breath, “for killing my son.” Moments before, a judge had allowed his son’s killer to get out on bond and leave town while […]

House passes bill to allow for state takeover of Missouri prosecutor offices

By: - February 9, 2023

Missouri lawmakers advanced a proposal Thursday that would give the governor the ability to strip the authority of any elected prosecutor to handle violent crime cases. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, would allow the governor to appoint a special prosecutor for five years if the number of homicide cases in any prosecuting […]

Missouri Republicans push for state to take over control of St. Louis police department

By: - January 25, 2023

Kansas City is the only major city in the country where the city’s elected leaders don’t control the local police department — a state-appointed police board does. Up until 2013, St. Louis was in the same boat.  However, the city gained local control of its police department after a 2012 statewide referendum.  Now 10 years […]

Missouri Supreme Court hears AG’s opposition to prosecutor’s jurisdiction in innocence claim

By: - January 24, 2023

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday from the state’s attorney general opposing yet another local prosecutor’s attempt to argue the innocence of a man convicted of murder. This time the case was for Michael Politte, a man who was charged with murdering his mother in 1999 when he was 15.  In May, former Washington […]

Missouri prosecutors face losing jurisdiction over violent crime cases

By: - January 23, 2023

Republican legislators have made it clear that challenging the authority of St. Louis’ elected prosecutor Kimberly Gardner — a progressive Black Democrat — is a top priority this year.  And they’ll be searching for a way to make that challenge constitutional.  On the first day of the legislative session, Republican state leaders said Missouri could […]

Missouri regulators say they’re close to naming marijuana chief equity officer

By: - January 13, 2023

The constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana in Missouri won voter approval in November but created a schism among social-justice activists over the question of racial and economic equity.  Some believe the new law will empower minority marijuana business owners, while others worry it will cement an already distrusted, inequitable business licensing system in place. Much […]

Missouri marijuana companies can now deduct business expenses on state income taxes

By: - January 10, 2023

Marijuana companies will be able to deduct business expenses on their state taxes for the first time this year, a Missouri Department of Revenue spokeswoman confirmed to The Independent.  Missourians voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. But under federal law, growing, transporting or selling marijuana remains a crime. Because of this dynamic, marijuana companies […]