When the year 2017 began, the cannabis community was still in a euphoric mood over the massive victories that took place on Election Night 2016. Spirits were high and the momentum in the cannabis law reform movement had never been greater. Everyone was expecting a big year in 2017 and in most ways, the year did not disappoint.
Adult use marijuana retail sales got an early start in Nevada, where long lines and battles over distribution dominated the news from that state. Just before 2017 began, a handful of legislators in Massachusetts delayed the start of retail sales there and lawmakers continued to alter the voter-approved legalization law as the year went on.
Another state where voters approved recreational legalization was Maine, and battles ensued there between lawmakers and a governor who was very much against legalization from the start. The 4th – and by far the largest – state to approve adult use marijuana legalization in 2016 was California. There things were bumpy for a while, but lawmakers – for the most part – seem to have things on track for recreational sales to begin in most of the state in January 2018.
On the medical marijuana front, regulators in Florida have had a rough time in regards to getting that state’s program off the ground. Other states working through regulations for new medical marijuana programs included Arkansas and North Dakota.
But the biggest story in the cannabis law reform community in 2017 was easily the new Trump Administration and the new U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Sessions’ every move and utterance was dissected by cannabis journalists and pundits to see if there was any clue to an impending crackdown from the federal government on recreational or medical marijuana.
While Sessions seemed to make several attempts to reign in the legal cannabis industry, the crackdown that everyone feared didn’t come in 2017, thanks in large part to state lawmakers making it very clear that they would fight such a move by the feds.
After a lot of tough talk, the Department of Justice ended the year by leaving in place the policy followed by the Obama Administration over the last few years, one which basically left states to regulate cannabis on their own as long as they follow several guidelines.
The year 2018 is shaping up to be a momentous year as well, maybe on par with 2016. Several states – like Vermont and Michigan – could approve recreational legalization this year. No matter what happens in the world of marijuana law reform, you can be sure that we will be here covering it in print and on our new video show.
Help us spread the truth about cannabis far and wide and let’s make 2018 the greatest year in marijuana law reform history!