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GreenState’s year in review: Top wins for cannabis in 2022

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As one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States, cannabis has come a long way from being as taboo as it once was.

For cannabis enthusiasts, 2022 saw some exciting wins that are well worth celebrating. Three states legalized recreational cannabis use this past year, and one state legalized medical marijuana. On top of that, President Biden pardoned thousands of US citizens charged with possessing small amounts of cannabis.

We rounded up some of the biggest victories the cannabis community is celebrating as we head into the new year. Here are GreenState’s top wins for cannabis in 2022.

1. Biden’s cannabis pardon

In mid-October, President Biden pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of simple possession of cannabis. He went on to remark that, “No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” and also directed the secretary of Health and Human Services and the US attorney general to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

The historic move was intended to help those convicted overcome obstacles to renting a home or finding a job.

RELATED: What states might legalize weed in 2023? And where will sales start? We looked at what’s in store for cannabis next year

2. Three states legalized adult-use cannabis

More states are legalizing recreational cannabis every year. In 2022, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Missouri took that step.

Rhode Island legalized cannabis early in 2022 when a bill supporting the move was approved by the state’s senate. The bill allowed adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and allowed for the creation of a regulated cannabis market. Retail sales were launched on December 1.

Maryland and Missouri both voted to legalize adult-use cannabis in the midterm election. Cannabis legalization was on the ballot in 5 states on November 8, but was shot down in three of those states.

Beginning in July of 2023, adults will be able to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana in Maryland, and in Missouri, adults can possess up to three ounces and six flowering plants right now.

While plans for when Maryland’s adult-use sales will launch remain hazy, Missouri cannabis sales could launch as soon as this February.

RELATED: Where is cannabis legal in the United States? (Medical marijuana and CBD included)

3. Mississippi legalized medical marijuana

Mississippi legalized medical marijuana for those with debilitating diseases such as cancer and AIDS in February of 2022.

An initiative to launch a medical marijuana program in the state was initially approved by voters in 2020, but was invalidated by the state’s Supreme Court six months later with a ruling that the state’s initiative process was outdated.

Medical marijuana sales in Mississippi are currently on track to launch in January of 2023. What a way to kick off the new year!

RELATED: For an empire state of mind, try these top 420-friendly activities in New York City

4. Thailand decriminalized cannabis

In a historic move, Thailand decriminalized cannabis in June of 2022. It was the first Asian country to take this step.

Selling or growing cannabis is no longer considered a crime in this country, though there are some penalties that still apply if you consume certain kinds of cannabis recreationally. The country’s legal cannabis market is expected to be worth $9.6 billion by 2030.

While some legal grey areas around the drug are still being hashed out, it’s still a big and important step for Thailand.

5. The US House of Representatives passed a cannabis decriminalization bill

The House of Representatives passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana federally in April of this year. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (or, the MORE Act) would not only remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, but also expunge convictions relating to cannabis and impose a cannabis sales tax.

The bill was originally passed by the House in 2021, but unfortunately did not move forward in the Senate. Here’s hoping history does not repeat itself in 2023.

Cannabis legalization made great strides in 2022, and there is even more to look forward to in 2023. Across the country, the stigma around cannabis use and the industry is shrinking, leaving space for innovation and growth.

Safe to say, it’s a good time to be a cannabis enthusiast.