2017 witnessed a slew of events that left a permanent mark on how the world perceives marijuana. It all started with Uruguay setting the trend in the being the first country worldwide to legalize marijuana. And California, with almost 40 million in population, is ready to make it happen in 2018.
1- Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana
On July 2017, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana, allowing its citizens to buy recreational cannabis from pharmacies.
Legalization of marijuana in Uruguay has created some domino effect to Ottawa. Uruguayan Ambassador Martin Vidal credited his South American country’s cannabis legalization nationwide as something of a trailblazer for countries like Canada.
2- Canada makes solid plans to legalize recreational marijuana
In late November 2017, Canada’s Cannabis Act or Bill C-45 was sent to the Senate for final approval. This sent positive signals for Canadian marijuana stocks to reach a new high. If approved, Canada will be the first developed country in the world to legalize marijuana.
In another twist of events, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Dec. 20 that “next summer,” and not July 1, is the date cannabis will become legal across the country.
Initially, Canadian Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor made an announcement in November that the Liberal government’s proposed cannabis regulations was set for July 1, 2018, coinciding with Canada’s National Day.
3- Health Canada acknowledges drug-impaired driving as challenge
Health Canada publishes a survey on Dec. 19 with participants 16 and older nationwide to give both the Canadian government and its people a deeper look on how marijuana is consumed in the country.
About 9,215 Canadians were surveyed. They were asked about their knowledge and use of cannabis, including driving behaviors after consuming cannabis. Of those, 2,650 reported using pot in the previous year for non-medical or medical purposes.
The survey was used to help both federal and provincial governments prepare for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the summer of 2018. Health Canada acknowledged drug-impaired driving and enforcing prohibitions on it will be a challenge. Who knows if this could affect the Senate in delaying its decision?
4- California with a population of almost 40 million prepares for legalization
After voters celebrated the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016, California’s three licensing agencies — the Department of Health, Department of Food and Agriculture and the Bureau of Cannabis Control — released rulings on Nov. 16, 2017 to set the tone on how legal pot will be used across California.
The rules included a wide spectrum of issues from who can sell and deliver marijuana to how it must be packaged and transported.
5- Mexico catching the ‘marijuana flu,’ allow cannabis sales next year
Following its legalization of marijuana for medical and scientific use in June, Mexico will make the sale of cannabis-based medicines, foods, drinks, cosmetics and other products – all legal – early next year, the country’s health regulator said on Dec. 20.
The regulation, however, does not apply to sales of pure marijuana as Mexico will continue its ban on recreational use and cultivation.
6- The Jeff Sessions scare makes headlines
However, Sessions testified before Congress in November that an Obama-era Justice Department memo, which allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without interference remains in effect.
Sessions, who appointed a task force to map out marijuana policy, proved that his scare tactics were futile as U.S. States went forth with their changes regarding weed.
Sessions appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump in February was a former Alabama prosecutor and anti-drug crusader.
7 – Nevada officially joins the recreational cannabis market in July
In July 2017, the western state of Nevada joined the recreational marijuana market with a bang, bringing a $27 million worth of recreational cannabis in July alone – and a total of $60 million in both July and August. In October, its marijuana sales hit a record of $37.9 million, raising 2018 estimates.
8- Massachusetts to allow Marijuana at Yoga, Cinemas
The Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts voted unanimously on Dec. 21 to approve draft regulations. In addition, to allowing the creation of marijuana “microbusinesses,” the new draft will allow the sale of marijuana at yoga studios and movie theaters, and most importantly setting the tone for package and advertising.
In November, the US state of Maine also started the first building blocks to allow recreational cannabis. But, maine went back to the drawing board after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed an implementation bill that would have finalized rules for the recreational program.
In the US, seven states – Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Maine – and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing recreational marijuana in addition to its medical use, with California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada being the recent joiners.
9- More countries legalize medical marijuana
The year of 2017 witnessed more countries joining the medical marijuana bandwagon with Germany legalizing medical cannabis in March 2017, and Mexico in June, bringing the total of countries permitting medical use of pot up to 25 worldwide.
On Dec. 5, Paraguay’s Congress also passed a bill to create a state-sponsored system to import marijuana seeds and grow the plant for medical uses, following steps of other Latin American countries.
10- Canadian medical marijuana companies go global
In early September, a Canadian company by the name of Cronos Group became the first Canadian MMJ or medical marijuana producer to establish a production facility overseas for global exports.
After Crono, Tilray spent $24 million to build a medical marijuana production facility in Portugal to serve the European Union.
Since then, many other Canadian MMJ companies started tapping into the overseas markets in places like Colombia, Denmark, Germany and Australia, according to the Marijuana Business Daily.
11- US allows doctors discussing marijuana with veterans
On Dec. 20, the VA issues a new directive for clinical programs that frees its doctors and pharmacists to discuss marijuana with military vets taking part in state-approved medical marijuana programs.
On Veteran’s Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to add PTSD to the list of ailments that can legally be treated with medical marijuana in the states, The Cannabist.com reported.
12- Marijuana stock market keeps getting bigger
The Canadian Marijuana Index, which tracks 18 cannabis stocks, mushroomed after a regulator stopped a hostile takeover and following Christmas break. Canada’s top four producers are now worth more than $10 billion after Canopy Growth Corp., more than doubled this year, Aurora Cannabis Inc., more than tripled, Aphria Inc. gained more than 180 per cent and MedReleaf Corp. has climbed more than 60 per cent since its June debut.
In the U.S., marijuana investors have a new fund to think about. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF – a cannabis-focused exchange-traded fund – made its debut on NYSE Arca in December with 31 holdings.