Oct 12 • 17M

🗞 Joe Biden Goes Mellow On Weed, Twitter Whiplash Hits, & Crypto Hacks Are Just Getting Started

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This Week: Biden makes good on his pot pardons, Musk is back to square one with his Twitter purchase, and Binance reels from a bridge attack. Plus, what happens when you tell a client to burn the evidence, and a bizarre cheating scandal in Illinois.


🍁 Biden's Pot Shot

The US's war on drugs is not over, nor are our (sadly) world-leading incarceration rates, but both were dealt a heavy blow last week when President Biden pardoned thousands of people federally convicted of simple marijuana possession. "Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states," Biden said on Twitter. "That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs." The 46th President was clear in citing the racial disparity in incarceration rates between white, black, and brown cannabis users, despite their roughly equal usage of the substance. 

  • In July, a group of Senators that include Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wrote to President Biden stating that, "the administration’s failure to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy is harming thousands of Americans, slowing research, and depriving Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes," notes The New York Times.

  • But not everyone is in agreement. "No one deserves to be in jail for a joint," Kevin Sabet, who runs an organization opposing full marijuana legalization said, adds The Times. "But we should also not be selling highly potent THC products, nor should we promote and encourage use among young people."

  • While the Federal Government tends to prosecute only marijuana trafficking and not petty possession cases, states do the majority of cannabis regulation and prosecution. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis. 

The Cole Memorandum

In August of 2013, under then-president Obama, the Justice Department issued the Cole Memorandum in response to Colorado and Washington's legalization of cannabis. In it, the DOJ outlines how, "based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system," it had deferred "its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time." This effectively allowed states to legalize and regulate cannabis without federal interference. In 2018, however, the Trump Administration "told [federal] prosecutors to use established prosecutorial principles and their own judgment when prosecuting — or declining to pursue — marijuana charges," writes USA Today. In February 2021, Roll Call notes, Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland told Senators that he would comply with the Cole Memorandum as he did not believe prosecuting cannabis-related crimes would be worth the department's time.

The Verdict

Biden's pardons are long overdue from the federal government, as are his recommendations that cannabis be rescheduled. Of course, the move is more symbolic than anything, but the hope is that more states decriminalize and pardon.


Yep, we’ve all been here (and we’re quite over it). 😩

So please join us for our next panel discussion — Commercial Contracting: Doing More With Less.

With a guest lineup of Laura Frederick (Founder/CEO, How to Contract), Mike Molina (VP, Legal & DGC, Flock Safety), Jonathan Franz (AGC, Crunchbase), Jasmine Singh (GC, Binti), and Hayley Gonzales (Director, Commercial Counsel, Affirm) you won’t want to miss it.

Save your spot!


♻️ Musk's Twitter Volley

If you know any chiropractors, now may be a good time to call them for whiplash recovery as it appears Elon Musk is looking to buy Twitter once again. That's right, the deal is back on. Two days before Elon Musk was set to be deposed on October 6 (something he'd already delayed twice), the Tesla CEO filed a letter with the SEC stating that he actually did want to buy Twitter as per the original deal. The court proceedings have stopped, but if this is another troll attempt by Musk (or if anything else goes awry) — the mega-case is back on for November. Before you wipe your brow and exhale a sigh of relief, skepticism still abounds.

Exhibit A: a New York Times piece from the day after Musk's announcement noted that the world's richest man was looking to get a discount on his initial purchase. Rather than the $44 billion he offered in April (at $54.20 per share), he was now jockeying for a $31 billion price. Does this suggest Musk is still unable to find financing? "I’m sure the banks aren’t as hot to do this in October at these terms as they were in April at these terms," Michael Maimone, a partner with Barnes & Thornburg, told The Times. And Twitter isn't having it either: "The intention of the company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share," the social media platform mentioned in a statement

  • The Verge adds that Twitter was potentially willing to close at the lower price, but snuck in a few "self-serving" conditions that ended up scuttling the negotiation.

  • Bloomberg adds more complexity here, saying that Musk's letter agreed to the original deal "pending receipt of the proceeds of the debt financing." However, "the original deal didn’t contain such a contingency."

Tesla Nosedive
All this is happening against the backdrop of Tesla's share price taking a nosedive … don't worry, Musk is still the world's richest person by a hefty margin. In one seven-day stretch of September, Tesla's share price dropped 16%, giving it the company's worst week since March 2020, reports CNBC. Tesla's share price does seem to fluctuate on Twitter deal news, but the recent slowdown seems to be more a reflection of the electric car maker missing production and delivery numbers.

The Verdict

Listen, we've seen this dance before. Although, things seem more serious this time as Musk will prove himself a bad-faith actor to the judge should he pull out of the deal again. That being said, this case is far from over.


🎇 Press, Press, Press

We’ve been riding the press train lately. And, we’re happy to share we’ve been promoted in two more articles spreading the news on our recent happenings.

All About The Biz: Legal operation chiefs need to know their company’s business strategy back to front in order to deliver, reports Legal Dive. The article draws on insights from our event — Legal Operations 101: How to Build a Team. You can catch our top 5 takeaways here.

More on Our App: Lyle Moran of Legal Dive writes on how we’ve transitioned over to a mobile application in addition to the launch of our new web app. He highlights words from our founder/CEO, Raad Ahmed, “Our app further simplifies an already seamless process, connecting talented individuals with the opportunities that support their exact needs.”


🌉 Binance's Bridge Breach

In a week where an explosion on a bridge linking Russia to Crimea rocked headlines, there was a bridge attack of a very different nature. The bridge in question is the BSC Token Hub cross-chain bridge, or, the bridge that allows the transfer of assets from the Binance Smart Chain (the blockchain used by Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange) to independent blockchains. Last week, hackers seem to have found a vulnerability that ultimately allowed them to take $100 million (or more) off this bridge. Binance, in response, suspended transactions and fund transfers while the issue was investigated. As TechCrunch notes, the hackers appeared to have minted $568 million worth of BNB tokens, but could only withdraw between $100 million and $110 million before the bridge was frozen.

  • Since the hackers used newly-minted tokens, no other users appear to have been affected.

  • "The issue is contained now. Your funds are safe. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide further updates accordingly," Changpeng Zhao, Binance's CEO, tweeted Thursday.

  • This is not the first cross-chain hack either. TechCrunch details how some $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen from cross-chain bridges this year.

Bridge Protocols

Blockchain data platform Chainalysis published a report back in August highlighting that cross-chain bridge attacks had become the most significant threat to blockchain technology. "Bridges are an attractive target because they often feature a central storage point of funds," the report says. Chainalysis recommends exchanges create "rigorous code audits" and "smart contracts." Binance explained "decentralized chains are not designed to be stopped," and, in the case of their own incident, it was only after "contacting community validators one by one, we were able to stop the incident from spreading."

The Verdict

Here is yet another example of how the Crypto market desperately needs regulation. But the question is, should the SEC oversee the technology running such exchanges? And, if so, how would they keep up with such fast-moving technology?


📥WEWF

Burn Notice: Above The Law details the case of former Jones Day partner Raymond McKeeve who was found guilty in the UK of instructing a client to burn evidence. But, rather than spend time in prison, the court fined McKeeve about $28,000 and stripped him of his practice.

Cheating Scandal: The Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar is scrambling to investigate a claim by a Reddit user that they cheated on their bar exam, writes Law.com. The Redditor asked if they should turn themselves in, but some are wondering if the confession is even real.


ICYMI: Here’s a short from last week’s edition.

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✌🏽 Raad