The end of the year tends to be a time of reflection for many. Those in the cannabis industry are no different. This year saw both ups and downs for marijuana businesses, state-legal programs, and advocates alike. But, no matter what, it is certainly a step forward to be able to say we are ending 2022 with almost half of the states in the U.S. legalizing recreational marijuana in some form – 21 states, to be exact.
With all of the news going on in the legal cannabis industry in 2022, here are three of the most-read or most popular stories of the year.
United States Senate Committee Holds Historic Hearing on Cannabis Legalization
In July, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism held a historic first hearing on cannabis legalization. This was the first time in the chamber’s history that such a hearing took place. Although no action was taken on the issue of cannabis legalization, the hearing was significant to advocates and pro-legalization lawmakers across the country. The hearing was ultimately viewed as more of an effort to place legalization in the political spotlight than an attempt to discuss the actual cannabis legislation. But, the fact that the Senate held an official hearing on the matter, when they had avoided doing so for years, was enough for many to consider this a historic moment.
The Effect of Cannabis on Covid-19
In January 2022, researchers affiliated with Oregon State University found that two cannabinoid acids found in hemp could prevent the Covid-19 virus from infecting new cells by binding to a spike protein in the virus. While this may seem like great news, much more research is needed to know the validity of this claim. But, the study and story went viral this year. An instructor with Harvard Medical School cautioned that smoking during a pandemic may be ill-advised, particularly as Covid-19 impacts the lungs.
President Biden Issues Pardons to Thousands Convicted of Federal Cannabis Charges
In October, President Biden issued pardons to those with a federal conviction of simple cannabis possession. Biden’s Administration estimated that the move will affect approximately 6,500 people all over the United States. The President also called on governors across the country to issue pardons for those convicted of cannabis possession at the state level. While many felt that the move was purely political, as Biden issued the pardons so close to the mid-term elections, it was still the most progressive thing the President has done for cannabis reform while in office. He also formally called for a review of the plant’s current status as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.