There was a lot to be thankful for in regards to marijuana this year. From more states with legalized cannabis to decriminalization, strides are being made towards marijuana policy reform. The country’s attitude has been changing significantly over the last few years and the achievements of 2016 are evidence of how far we’re going away from prohibition.
4 States Legalized Cannabis for Recreational Use
1 in 5 people in the U.S. can now legally consume marijuana. California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts legalized cannabis in November. This increases the number of states with legalized cannabis up to 8 plus D.C. On top of this, Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas passed laws to legalize medical marijuana, bringing the number of states with medical cannabis up to 28 plus D.C. California holds the 6th largest economy in the world with great influence over the rest of the country and across the globe. This move to legalize in the state will likely have ripples.
Social Marijuana Hits Denver
Denver residents passed a proposal to allow for the social use of marijuana in businesses that have a designated smoking area. Unfortunately some back tracking was done on the bill, making it illegal for any business with a liquor license to obtain the marijuana permit. Nonetheless, coffee houses, cafes and yoga studios will be able to apply for the permit.
Decriminalization in the South
Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans all decriminalized marijuana this year and now Texas is in talks to do the same. The move reflects a great shift in attitude from the south, whose position has squarely opposed legalized cannabis in the past. The move ushers in a time of greatly reduced marijuana related arrest rates, which have now reached their lowest number in 20 years.
Funding Anti-Bully Programs
In the age of technology, bullying has expanded to the internet as well as remaining an issue for the youth. Colorado decided to put the tax money earned from marijuana sales towards helping its youth fight this devastating problem. The state made $2.9 million dollars in marijuana tax revenue that will go towards bullying protection programs. Schools will be able to get up to $40,000 each to fund the anti-bullying programs.
Tightened Regulations for Edibles
Edibles are a popular way of consuming marijuana although it is easy for new users to carelessly consume too much. Despite childproof packaging, there were instances of edibles being mistaken for regular food due to improper packaging and storage. New regulations on edibles require that portions and directions be labelled clearly. Edibles must be marked with a THC symbol so as not to be confused with other foods. Lastly, edibles must not be packaged in any way that is attractive to children, including not coming in bear or animal shapes. Ultimately these regulations make the public feel safer and more secure about edibles and help to improve the reputation of the plant.
All in all it has been a year of progress. Despite the concerning outcome of the presidential election and the DEA’s decision not to reclassify the plant, there have still been great strides forward that will no doubt continue through the years to come.