2017 has been one heck of a year for cannabis. The cannabis industry and movement have made large gains in the realms of both politics and policy, public support and financial investment. People have come to regard weed as a mainstream wellness product, in addition to a serious medical treatment and safe, fun, herbal way to relax. We’re excited for the progress ahead in 2018, but that wouldn’t be happen with the gains we made in 2017. Here’s all the good news (and some not-so-good news) that happened this past year.
Donald Trump Appoints Prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
The year got off to a rough start. President Trump named Jeff Sessions Attorney General. This was a major blow to the cannabis community, instigating a great deal of fear and insecurity that the federal government would all of a sudden crack down on all the progress that had been made. Sessions had said on the record that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and even advocated for a revival of the failed “just say no” D.A.R.E. program. Denying all scientific evidence to the contrary, Sessions has stood by his faulty opinion that cannabis is almost as bad as heroin.
Marijuana Legalization Achieves Record-High Public Support
According to a Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans think weed should be legal. This is the highest level of support legalization has ever received, since Gallup began polling on the issue in 1969. Support for the question this year even included a majority of self-identified Republicans, proving that legalization is a bipartisan issue.
New Jersey Elects Pro-Legalization Governor Phil Murphy
Just when it seemed that New Jersey would never legalize, thanks to anti-weed incumbent Governor Chris Christie, the citizens of the state elected Phil Murphy. On his campaign website, Murphy pledged to “legalize marijuana so police can focus resources on violent crimes,” and now plans to legalize cannabis (if possible) within the first 100 days of his term. Once New Jersey legalizes, it’s only a matter of time before the domino effect knocks down prohibition in neighboring states, such as New York.
Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana
In June, Mexico voted to legalize medical marijuana, representing a great deal of progress under President Enrique Pena Nieto. While Nieto was once opposed to legalization, he changed his mind, calling the international community’s solutions to drugs and crimes so far “inefficient.” “We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention,” he said. At the end of the year, Mexico announced it would begin importing cannabis medicine, edibles, and cosmetics in 2018.
Israel Decriminalizes Cannabis
Earlier this year, the Israeli parliament announced plans to decriminalize cannabis. While the news made global headlines, Israeli cannabis activists call it “fake decriminalization,” since cops can still search your home from the smell of weed, and after multiple offenses, you’re still subject to criminal sanction. Even so, the announcement moved the needle forward, motivating activists and the global cannabis community to continue to push for reform.