With 2019 coming to a close, cannabis advocates and consumers are reflecting back on the year that was.
2019 was not a presidential or midterm election year, however, it was still a tremendously significant year for both the cannabis movement and the cannabis industry.
Below is a recap of the top cannabis moments from the last year.
MORE Act advances
Back in November, members of the United States House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the MORE Act, which is legislation that would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances.
The successful committee vote was the first time in United States history that a Congressional committee voted to remove cannabis from the control of the federal government. The measure failed to become law in 2019, however, its advancement was still historic.
SAFE Banking Act passes the full House
Access to the United States banking system is an ongoing problem for many companies in the emerging cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act would address the issue head-on.
The SAFE Banking Act was passed by the House in September and marked the first time that a chamber of Congress passed a stand-alone cannabis measure. The Senate has yet to vote on the bill.
Cannabis stocks lose value
2019 was not a good year for cannabis stocks, with the six largest publicly traded cannabis companies losing a collective $25 billion in market value since March. That was obviously bad news for investors.
The silver-lining is that the cannabis stock sector will be driven more by logic and due diligence than emotion going forward, which should yield better long-term investment opportunities.
Illinois legalizes cannabis
Illinois’ legislature voted to legalize cannabis for adult use this year, including legalizing adult-use cannabis sales.
Illinois was not the first state to legalize cannabis via legislative action. Vermont was the first to do so. However, Illinois was the first to legalize an adult-use industry, and that’s a very big deal, especially when considering how large Illinois is population-wise.
The emerging cannabis industry faced arguably its largest test this year when a significant number of consumers reported illnesses and dozens of deaths across North America, with vape cartridge consumption being reported as the cause.
Cannabis industry regulators implemented kneejerk public policy reactions, including outright bans of legal cannabis vape cartridges, despite unregulated cartridges being the real problem. 2019 provided many learning moments for the vape industry and consumers, for better or worse.
Michigan launches adult-use cannabis sales
At the beginning of December, Michigan launched legal adult-use cannabis sales in a handful of markets. The launch of adult-use sales was the culmination of many years of hard work by Michigan activists.
It will still be awhile before Michigan’s adult-use industry reaches its full potential, however, the launch of adult-use sales in 2019 is a really big deal. Michigan’s market will be huge in the future.
Gallup shows continued record support for federal legalization
For the second year in a row Gallup found record-level support for federal cannabis legalization. 66% of U.S. voters support cannabis legalization, which is the same level of support compared to 2018.
Gallup has conducted a poll asking voters if they support legalization going back to 1969, and is considered by many political observers to be the best measure of support for legalization in the nation.
Record hemp licensing
2019 was the biggest year for hemp in the United States in modern history. A record 511,442 acres was licensed to cultivate hemp in 34 states according to Vote Hemp.
That is a 476% increase over 2018. The hemp plant is now legal nationwide, albeit with some rulemaking still in the works. 2020 is poised to be an even bigger year for the domestic hemp industry.
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