5 Reasons Why 2018 Was The Biggest Year For Cannabis Legalization
2018 was a massive year for cannabis legalization. There were lots of surprising highlights, and a few not so surprising ones. Either way, everyone in the cannabis movement has something to be happy about before the year ends; whether you’re a patient, recreational consumer, cultivator, or entrepreneur.
While the year brought about lots of significant milestones, here are the 5 biggest reasons we’re celebrating, in no particular order:
- California legalized recreational marijuana on January 1, 2018. In doing so, the Golden State just became the world’s biggest adult-use cannabis marketplace. BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research estimate that the state can contribute as much as $ 7.7 billion in annual sales by 2022. California experienced a lot of labor pains this year despite the move, such as the turtle pace that came with issuing licenses, complex regulations that are constantly changing, and onerous taxes. Even though these caused sales to be slower than expected, there is no doubt California will continue to outpace the market in the United States.
- Canada legalized recreational marijuana on October 17, 2018. For many, this was the biggest news of the year. Why? Well, Canada just became the first G7 nation to legalize recreational marijuana, and the second country in the world to do so next to Uruguay. Thanks to the progressive stance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party, all eyes are now on Canada as the first wealthy country in the globe experiments with recreational use. All provinces in the country will be trying out their own approaches to cannabis, and as the years go by, we’ll soon know which tactics are working best. However, another huge reason it’s big news is because in legalizing recreational marijuana, Canada violated international drug treaties including the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, and the Convention on Psychotropic Drugs of 1971. How Canada will handle it remains to be seen on the diplomatic arena, and it may also create the foundation for how other countries may tackle it should they wish to legalize cannabis recreationally.
- . Ok, you can’t smoke hemp, but regardless: the legalization of hemp nationwide is huge. After an over 80-year prohibition, hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of cannabis is now legal. It may not get you high, but it’s used to make therapeutic CBD products, as well as paper, food, rope, clothes, and much more. Prior to this, CBD was always in a legal gray area, but the legalization of hemp means that now all of its derivatives including their valuable medicinal cannabinoid, are legal too. However, they will be subject to requirements and regulations set forth by the FDA. Another huge benefit of the farm bill is that now hemp farmers across the country can enjoy the same benefits and protections as traditional farmers, which includes insurance and banking.
- Michigan legalizes recreational cannabis, making it the first Midwest state to do so. The 2018 midterm elections yielded many wins for the cannabis industry; one of them was the fact that Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana in 56-44 vote. Michigan is the country’s 10th most populous state, which gives them a good chance to give California a run for its money in terms of the size of their legal cannabis marketplaces. This may eventually lead to a domino effect; perhaps Illinois and Ohio may be next to legalize cannabis since they’re just across the border from Michigan.
- Massive investments and deals for cannabis businesses. Some of the biggest investment news of the year were Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA, injecting $ 1.8 billion into Cronos Group, a Canadian cannabis company. The biggest cannabis investment transaction also took place this year; when Constellation Brands endowed $ 4 billion to Canopy Growth, a leading Canadian cannabis producer.
Will 2019 be even bigger? Well, certainly nothing would beat the reclassification of cannabis. Some advocates and experts believe that there’s a big possibility cannabis will be legalized on the federal level even before next Christmas. But the battle isn’t over: we’ve got to continue fighting until cannabis is federally legal.