2018 has been one of the best years that marijuana has had ever since it was prohibited over 80 years ago. For millennia, it was possible to grow weed without any legal issues, but in the early 20th century, most countries decided that cannabis was an illegal substance. It has been a long road back, but at long last, the pioneers and activists that fought for the restoration of marijuana as a legal substance can see more than a chink of light at the end of the tunnel.
Bizarrely enough, marijuana investors had a pretty bad year overall. The first ever marijuana EFT, Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index EFT, is down approximately one-third in 2018. As the EFT holds almost 50 stocks, it is likely that the average cannabis stock has fallen by at least 10%. Even so, this may be a temporary blip, as 2019 promises even more good news for the herb.
However, in this article, we want to take a look back at a historic year and outline five significant cannabis milestones from 2018.
1 – Getting High on Midterm Results
During the 2018 midterms, Missouri and Utah became the 32nd and 33rd states to legalize medicinal marijuana (along with D.C.). Meanwhile, Michigan voters said ‘yes’ to marijuana in a big way and enabled the state to become the tenth to legalize recreational cannabis. Earlier in the year, residents of Oklahoma also voted to legalize medicinal marijuana.
At the same time, Missouri, Utah, and Oklahoma, which are ‘red’ states, continued to elect Republicans to the Senate and nominate conservatives for state office. It is a clear sign that, while Americans are sticking rigid to party lines in terms of voting in politicians, they are becoming more liberal when it comes to using weed.
On January 4, 2018, the Vermont House voted to pass an amended version of a 2017 bill, known as H.511. The bill legalized recreational use of cannabis, and Vermont adults are now allowed to possess one ounce and can cultivate two plants. Vermont was the first state to legalize recreational weed entirely through the legislative process.
2 – The Election of Pro-Cannabis Governors
It wasn’t long ago that announcing pro-cannabis views was the death knell to any politician’s ambitions. It is a sign of the changing times that pro-weed gubernatorial candidates actually won their races in 2018! Democrat J. B. Pritzker enjoyed an easy victory in Illinois. He notably placed cannabis legalization as one of the core tenets of his platform.
In Minnesota, Democrat Tim Walz also backed the end of prohibition of marijuana and was rewarded with a seat in the governor’s mansion. In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor after stating that weed was a drug capable of helping people wean themselves off opioids. In Connecticut, Democrat Ned Lamont was voted in as state governor after promising that legalizing cannabis is one of his top priorities in 2019.
3 – Several Notable Former Prohibitionists Change Their Opinion on Marijuana Reform
The only way we can hope to change the federally illegal status of marijuana is on a political level. Of course, the public needs to continue to protest the existing situation and make themselves heard, but nothing will be done unless the nation’s politicians jump on board Mary Jane’s bandwagon.
As you saw above, politicians have been swept into office on the back of pro-cannabis reform. This has not gone unnoticed amongst those who have held a hardline stance against the herb for decades. In California, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a staunch proponent of prohibition, finally acknowledged that federal narcotics agents should not arrest California residents who follow their state’s weed laws.
Her fellow California Senator, Kamela Harris, once laughed in the face of a reporter who asked her about legalization. Today, Harris has thrown her weight behind ending prohibition. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, has been anti-drugs for as long as he has been in politics. However, he has finally flipped on the issue and even filed a bill to remove weed from the Controlled Substances Act.
How much has public opinion influenced the actions of these politicians? Quite a lot in all likelihood. A Gallup poll in October 2018 found that 66% of Americans support marijuana legalization.
4 – Hemp is on the Cusp of Legality
As hemp also comes from the cannabis plant, it has been classified as an illegal substance for as long as marijuana, even though it is non-psychoactive. However, common sense has finally prevailed as Republican Senate Majority Leader and anti-marijuana advocate, Mitch McConnell, supported the legalization of hemp via the 2018 Farm Bill. McConnell finally realized that hemp and marijuana are not one and the same, and now knows that hemp could be used as a medicine.
The U.S. House and Senate finally came to an agreement on the Farm Bill which allocates $867 billion federal dollars over the next decade. It is hoped that the bill will reach President Trump’s desk before the conclusion of the 115th Congress. According to Roger Johnson, the President of the National Farmers Union, the Farm bill will help weather the worst farm economy decline in three decades.
As well as helping crop producers and dairy farmers, the Bill will remove industrial hemp from the government’s list of controlled substances. As soon as the Bill is made into law, hemp will become a legal agricultural commodity that is also eligible for crop insurance. Although this does nothing to change marijuana legislation, it is fantastic news for the CBD industry.
5 – Canada Rolls Out Legal Marijuana
On October 17, 2018, Canada finally fulfilled its promise to legalize marijuana nationally. It was a day of crazy scenes, with people partying and queuing to purchase weed. If you are 19 years old, it is now legal for you to purchase cannabis for recreational use; the legal age is just 18 in Alberta and Quebec.
Although the selection is limited in certain provinces – for the time being at least – this is HUGE news for the marijuana industry. There is even a suggestion that the Canadian government will pardon citizens who have been convicted of possessing less than 30 grams of the herb. At the time of writing, two thirds of American states have legalized medicinal marijuana, while the country that comprises our entire northern border has completely legalized it.
However, Americans travelling to Canada must not travel in and out of the country with marijuana. You could face criminal charges for bringing weed to or from Canada, even if you live in a state like Colorado where it is legal for recreational use.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis in 2018
The above victories were just the tip of the iceberg. In 2018, Tilray became the first Canadian-based marijuana stock to go public on a major American exchange. The FDA approved Epidiolex, the first ever marijuana derived medicine. Several huge deals and acquisitions were completed or announced in the marijuana industry.
Aside from all of the above, we were also greeted with the wonderful news that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, one of the most stringent anti-marijuana opponents in America, was fired as the Attorney General. He had threatened to implement federal law, but his replacement, Matthew Whitaker, doesn’t seem to have the same anti-weed zeal. We look forward to another great year in 2019, because the future is green!