While we should be grateful every day, on Thanksgiving we tend to really consider just how many things we have to be thankful for. The cannabis industry that is now flourishing in the U.S. certainly has a lot to be thankful for – after all, just five years ago recreational sales didn’t exist, and a lot fewer states had access to medical marijuana.
In 2017 alone, we’ve seen a number of changes. Nevada started selling to recreational consumers, Florida started allowing medical marijuana for a much broader list of qualifying conditions, and several new studies are underway.
So, before we all sit down to a feast with family and friends, let’s take a look at five things the cannabis industry can be thankful for this year.
1. Sessions Has Failed to Repeal Marijuana Protections
Since early this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had the cannabis industry on edge. From the moment the drug-war era politician’s name came up for consideration, it was a concern for many – and those fears were recognized when he wrote a letter to Congress asking them to reverse the very limited protections that state-legal cannabusinesses have, and set up a task force with the goal of considering changes to current marijuana policy.
Luckily, in the last few weeks, Sessions has announced that the current limitations surrounding the Department of Justice and cannabusinesses will remain in place for the time being.
2. Support for Cannabis Continues to Soar
In recent years, support for cannabis legalization has hit an all-time high. With over 90 percent in favor of medicinal legalization, and 50-60 percent in favor of legalizing adult-use of the herb, it is clear that acceptance of pot smokers has come a long way in recent years. As the industry proves more successful, and those who run the most successful businesses prove that not everyone who smokes marijuana is a couch potato, the more the image of the average cannabis consumer evolves. Even Republicans are in favor of legalization over criminalization these days.
3. The DEA Approved a Study on Cannabis and PTSD
When it comes to medical marijuana, certain subjects – like cancer, glaucoma, and epilepsy – have seen a lot of attention from researchers. However, many of these studies are done on a small-scale and are not considered proof of anything. However, the DEA finally approved a study on cannabis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is not only one of few government-approved studies, but it will greatly benefit our veterans, as well as anyone else who suffers from PTSD.
4. Lawmakers Are Taking Matters into Their Own Hands
Lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to legalizing cannabis. Many states now have chosen to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses – but in recent years, there have been several states that have chosen to do so through legislature, rather than waiting on the inevitable ballot initiative.
This year, Vermont even passed a bill that would have (in part) legalized recreational cannabis – but it was vetoed by the Governor. However, lawmakers in both Vermont and New Jersey at least have made it clear that legalization is on the agenda for 2018.
5. Efforts to Legalize Have Spread Further
In recent years, efforts to legalize cannabis have spread – over half the states in the U.S. have access to medical cannabis, and 8 states and D.C. now allow adult use of cannabis. It’s not only throughout the U.S. either. Other countries have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, and Canada has become the first North American country to legalize the recreational use and sale of cannabis.
A couple decades ago, working in the cannabis industry would have been unheard of. Being able to access medical marijuana for a growing list of ailments wasn’t possible for most. Going to a dispensary and purchasing cannabis for everyday consumption would still be very illegal, no matter where you were. Taking these things into consideration, anyone who works or is active within the cannabis industry knows just how thankful we should all be that we’ve made it this far already.