ooking back over 2016’s cannabis highs and lows is a bit like taking a ride on a rollercoaster. If nothing else, it has been the most exciting year in decades. Will 2017 continue the trend?
2016 will go down in history as the year when medical marijuana was approved by more states, and in which few rejected the concept outright. But as salon.com comments, the future of legal cannabis and drug reform is yet again hanging in the balance.
The six major cannabis-related newsworthy events of the year were:
1. Big win for legalization
California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are added to the states approving adult use of marijuana recreationally. Cannabis gains acceptance from a large slice of the general public – even when not used as a medicine.
California in particular added leverage in the form of economic validation to the equation. The future of many a start-up invested in Cannabis is in a panic though, as all the progress could be “nipped in the bud” by the newly elected administration.
Oregon celebrates one year of recreational use quietly with all intact and little change despite the gloom and doom predicted by prohibition advocates.
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2. Medical marijuana reaches the “more than not” mark
More than half the states now approve of medical marijuana after the 2016 votes, with another 12 or more states approving CBD for medicinal use. The victory of medical marijuana gives some hope that the DEA might have to re-look scheduling again, and that marijuana businesses might be treated as normal businesses receiving loans and tax deductions for expenses.
3. The after-effects of the Trump victory on reform
The Trump administration pre-election stance on drug reform was to still allow states to take charge of laws and procedures in terms of legalizing, growing, taxing, dispensing and prescribing medical marijuana, and recreational use.
But no one really saw Sessions as the ultimate war machine on cannabis being appointed as head of the Department of Justice, now did they? There’s quite a lot of concern in the cannabis community as a result.
4. Opioid addiction more rampant than thought
Numbers reveal last year’s opioid addictions claimed the lives of 33,000 people in the US and heroin took another 12,000 on top of that. This shocking figure has led to prosecutors charging those who prescribe or supply opioid to those who overdosed with murder.
More people’s personal stories and some scientific studies show the benefit of medical marijuana as an alternative to manage pain, but more importantly, to kick opioids.
5. Obama reduces 1,000 drug war related sentences
The Obama administration reviewed the cases of 1,000 people sentenced in the 1980s on biased crack cocaine laws who would have served their sentence by now had they been found guilty by the current administration. This figure represents more sentences commuted in one year than by the past 11 presidents put together.
6. DEA retracts kratom ban
The DEA had to withdraw the ban on kratom after an outcry from users. The fight is not over, and formal input from the FDA will determine the final outcome. Many users have turned to the substance to replace opioids, and also to help them with opioid withdrawal.