It’s that time of year again – taking a look back at the year that has passed us by and seeing how much we’ve actually accomplished. Many of us will be setting goals for next year – after accessing where last year’s goals ended up.
Sometimes those goals are somewhat the same and sometimes they are drastically different – but one thing is certain – it’s almost the start of a new year again. If there had been specific goals we had in mind for marijuana reform in 2015 do you think they would have been accomplished?
Jamaica Decriminalized Weed on Bob Marley’s Birthday (February 6th)
When it comes to weed there aren’t many names that come to mind before Bob Marley – and this year on what would have been the musician’s 70th birthday we saw the Jamaican government decriminalize marijuana. Technically, the Senate passed a bill that essentially turned marijuana possession into a ticket-able offense, rather than a criminal one.
Washington D.C. Legalized Recreational Marijuana (February 26th)
Jamaica wasn’t the only place to decriminalize marijuana this year – our very own capital Washington D.C. went ahead and passed their law to legalize marijuana in the district. Not surprisingly there were warnings from Congress about taking this route in D.C., however the Mayor decided to move forward anyway; and since then crime rates have plummeted!
Oregon’s Recreational Cannabis Shops Opened Their Doors (October 1st)
In 2014 we saw Oregon vote to legalize recreational cannabis – and at the start of October this year we finally saw it go on sale! With a midnight opening and a crowd of people long awaiting it, Oregon actually made more in sales their first day than any other state to legalize so far. They even had a “Green Friday, Black Friday Sale” where they had $20 quarter ounces – and its all tax free until January 2016!
California regulated their Medicinal Marijuana Market (and paves the way for recreational cannabis) (October 9th)
For the first time in nearly 20 years since California voted to legalize medicinal marijuana (in 1996) action steps were taken to truly regulate the industry. New laws will not be implemented until January of 2018, however county and state dispensaries, cultivators and patients should all start preparing for the changes – which might be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to convincing the public that marijuana should in fact be legal.
Canada Voted in a Prime Minister Who is ready to Legalize Marijuana (October 19th)
I hate to say it – but Canada is definitely going to beat us in the race to nation-wide legalization. After a successful campaign where the candidate claimed he would be working towards marijuana reform, Justin Trudeau is now prime minister – and he’s sticking to his word. Only around a week into office he has already called to have an effective plan for legalization and regulation to be written up.
Bernie Sanders is the First U.S. Presidential Candidate on board with Legalization (October 21st)
Speaking of guys who want to run a country and are pro-marijuana – Bernie Sanders is full of surprises. The democratic favorite for the presidential election of 2016 called for the end of prohibition during a conference at a University which was on a live webcast to even more students. I think this one gained Bernie quite a bit of support and he’s the first ever presidential candidate to suggest rescheduling marijuana and ending federal prohibition.
Thousands of Drug War Prisoners Were Released (October 30th – November 2nd)
While we recently saw Obama commute almost 100 inmates, nothing comes close to the 6,000 inmates who were released earlier this year. Those who were released met certain criteria such as having been sentenced to too harsh of a sentence for the drug related crime and behaved well while inside in an effort to reduce the inmate population.
Colorado Citizens Got to Decide Where the EXTRA Cannabis Tax Revenue Went (November 3rd)
Being the first full year that marijuana was taxed and on sale for recreational use in Colorado it is no surprise that they made a ton in tax revenues. Actually – they made so much money that they had to ask the citizens what to do with all of it. Their estimated tax revenue was nearly doubled and surprisingly the public wanted to see the state keeping the money and putting it towards schools and programs like they originally agreed.
Alaska was the First State to Legalize Cannabis Consumption in Dispensaries (November 20th)
Alaska was the fourth state to legalize marijuana on a recreational level – but they were the first to provide any law allowing any form of public consumption of the plant. They won with a narrow 3-to-2 vote that allows cannabis flower to be smoked in some retail shops. This is actually a really big win because Colorado is still fighting for the social use we deserve!
Epidiolex Study Proves Cannabis is a Reliable Treatment for Epilepsy (December 7th)
I saved the best for last – and this really is probably the biggest thing that’s happened all year. The FDA has approved a medication called Epidiolex for clinical trials – and Epidiolex is the first ever CBD only medication! So far it has been used in a very large study on epileptic children and it has shown some amazing results – on average a 50% reduction in seizures and in the best cases these kids are now seizure-free for the first time! This is just the beginning, it will open up doors to research that was never a possibility before!
While it may not have been as exciting of a year as last year, but we sure did see some great progress in 2015. Many different states and countries have taken steps this year to legalize or at the least decriminalize marijuana, ending the War on Drugs is being talked about on a national level and the FDA approved a CBD based medication for testing – who knows what next year will have in store for us.