2018 proved to be arguably the biggest year in the history of the cannabis movement.
In addition to a number of reform victories, the cannabis industry is thriving at a level which no other industry on the planet can currently match.
2018 was extremely exciting for cannabis, and the Green Flower team is hopeful that 2019 will be even better.
And before we look forward to 2019, it’s time to recap the biggest stories from the last year (in no particular order).
1. Cannabis research continues to inspire
Cannabis research has been hindered for a long time due to prohibition. A number of hurdles are still in place, but 2018 was a breakthrough year for cannabis research.
As of this article’s post, PubMed.gov currently displays over 29,000 peer-reviewed studies for the search term ‘marijuana’ and over 19,000 for ‘cannabis.’
Three studies that stood out in 2018 were ones that found that:
- Cannabis is safe for consumption by the elderly
- CBD may help children that have been diagnosed with autism
- Cannabis enhances the therapeutic efficacy of cancer treatment
2. The feds legalized hemp
Arguably the biggest story of 2018 was the end of federal hemp prohibition. The measure was part of the 2018 Farm Bill that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.
Hemp has been prohibited for decades in the United States, with a few exceptions.
The 2014 version of the Farm Bill allowed some states to cultivate hemp, but now farmers across the country can cultivate hemp. It’s about as big of a deal as it gets for the reform movement!
3. Canada legalizes cannabis
Canada became the second country on the planet to allow legal adult-use cannabis sales. Uruguay was the first to do so.
Legalization in Uruguay was definitely a big deal, but since Canada is a G-7 nation, it’s considered by many to be just as significant if not more so compared to Uruguay.
Canada shares a border with the United States and is exporting cannabis to a number of other nations now. Hopefully it speeds up reform efforts elsewhere.
4. Mexico effectively legalizes cannabis
Uruguay and Canada legalized cannabis for adult use via legislation. Mexico also moved to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2018, but via a different route.
Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down cannabis prohibition, which effectively legalized cannabis for adults.
The nation still needs to set up a regulated system for legal sales, and Mexico’s leaders have already started the push for it, setting the stage for more fireworks in 2019.
5. Legalization for both adult-use and medical cannabis spreads in the U.S.
The 2018 Election proved to be a historic one for Michigan (adult-use), Missouri (medical), and Utah (medical).
Earlier in the year, the state of Vermont passed a cannabis legalization measure, making it the first state to legalize cannabis via legislative action.
2018 will likely be considered a tipping point for cannabis reform efforts, as it has sparked legalization efforts across the country, including in states that were considered off-limits just a few years ago.
6. Gallup shows a record level of support for legalization
Gallup polling has been asking United States voters if they support cannabis legalization since 1969. Back then just 12% of poll participants supported legalization.
This year the record for support was shattered, with an eye-popping 66% of poll participants indicating they support legalization.
Some notable items from the poll include:
- 53% support among Republicans
- 75% support among Democrats
- 59% among people 55 years old or older
7. Jeff Sessions resigns
Cannabis advocates across the country, and likely beyond, cheered as Jeff Sessions resigned as United States Attorney General.
Jeff Sessions has long been one of the biggest cannabis opponents in U.S. politics, and cannabis advocates and industry members were fearful that he would crack down on cannabis.
Fortunately, that crackdown never fully materialized and now Jeff Sessions is no longer in a position to push (or threaten to push) his reefer madness agenda from one of the most powerful positions in the nation.
8. Adult-use sales launch on the East Coast
Legal adult-use cannabis sales launched in Massachusetts in 2018, making it the first market to do so on the entire East Coast.
The launch of adult-use sales in Massachusetts had an almost immediate ripple effect in the region, with a number of states now seeming likely to follow suit in 2019 by legalizing cannabis.
Massachusetts may not have been the first state to legalize cannabis for adult use, but it is still one of the most significant states to do so given its geographical location and proximity to huge metro areas.
9. Adult-use sales launch in California
California is home to the largest cannabis market in the nation and is also home to the oldest legal cannabis industry in the nation since legalizing medical cannabis in 1996.
Voters in California approved adult-use cannabis in 2016, however, sales did not launch until 2018.
The industry in California has certainly had to endure its fair share of ups and downs in 2018, but that is expected when a state with the largest population in the country creates a regulated adult-use system from scratch.
10. Politicians continue to evolve on cannabis policy
It wasn’t that long ago that supporting cannabis reform was considered to be political suicide. That era is clearly over.
More state and federal politicians support cannabis reform than ever before, which should not be too surprising considering the level of support found among the voting population.
But still, it’s fantastic to see politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo get on the right side of history. Cuomo stated as recently as 2017 that cannabis was a gateway drug. Now, cannabis legalization has become one of his top priorities.