GreenState’s Year in Review: Top Wins for Cannabis in 2020

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No two ways about it: 2020 was rough, for all of us.

Even so, we’re all about silver (and green) linings, and when it comes to cannabis advancement, there have been a lot of those in this otherwise dark year. Legal cannabis sales are at an all-time high in the U.S., five new states have legalized marijuana, and more cannabis research was conducted this year than in any other year in history. Safe to say, 2020 revealed the nation’s need for weed. (We wonder why?)

We compiled the top five reasons for cannabis-enthusiasts to celebrate as we move into the new year. Here’s to even more progress in 2021!

1. South Dakota, Montana, Arizona and New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana this November

Every adult-use legalization measure on ballots this election passed, meaning 1 in 3 Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal.

RELATED: 2020 Election’s Landslide Marijuana Win: 1 in 3 Americans Now Live in State Where Cannabis Is Legalized

2. Also in November, South Dakota and Mississippi legalized medical marijuana

South Dakota, a historically red state, legalized both recreational and medical cannabis this year, and Bible Belt state stalwart Mississippi passed a robust medical marijuana initiative, even after facing intense opposition from certain members of the state legislature.

RELATED: Where is Cannabis Legal in the United States?

3. Cannabis businesses were deemed essential during the pandemic

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, cannabis businesses were permitted to remain open and deliver to consumers throughout the pandemic, and the decision made cannabis sales soar. According to Leafly, Americans spent nearly $18 billion on cannabis this year.

RELATED: Cannabis Sales Soar Despite COVID-19

4. The NBA announced that they would not test players for marijuana through the 2020-2021 season

Overall, cannabis-consuming athletes scored in 2020. The NFL has also ceased suspending players who test positive for marijuana.

RELATED: Cannabis in the NFL: Is Marijuana the Key to Athletic Success?

5. More cannabis research was conducted in 2020 than in any other year in history

According to data compiled by The National Library of Medicine, the rise in cannabis use during the pandemic seems to have amped up the motivation for researchers to take a hard look at our favorite plant.

Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to