This year has been difficult for many, as the world continues to battle COVID-19. And yet, in this dark time, one thing remains constant: weed.
2021 saw some exciting wins for cannabis that are well worth celebrating. The legal pot industry is rapidly growing, with total cannabis sales estimated to reach $31 billion for the year. On top of that, five states legalized recreational cannabis this year.
We rounded up the top victories the cannabis community will be celebrating this New Year’s. Here are GreenState’s top wins for cannabis in 2021.
1. Five states legalized recreational cannabis in 2021
This year, four new states passed laws to legalize recreational marijuana: Connecticut, New York, Virginia, and New Mexico. This brings the grand total to 18 states in the US that have legalized recreational cannabis use.
Many other states are considering legislation as well. In the new year, we can expect even more states to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin are likely to vote on cannabis legalization this year. And many other states have started to consider the legislation, such as Florida and Hawaii.
Additionally, Louisiana passed a bill this year decriminalizing cannabis use.
The #MRTA will:
✅ equitably distribute marijuana licenses
✅ invest revenue in communities of color
✅ expunge prior marijuana-related violations
— Alessandra Biaggi (@SenatorBiaggi) March 30, 2021
2. Alabama legalized medical marijuana
This year, Alabama passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana, one of the biggest advances in medical marijuana this year. Now, 37 states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical use.
On top of that, more US citizens than ever approve the legalization of medical marijuana. A Pew Research Center study conducted this year found that an overwhelming 91% of US adults believe medical marijuana should be legalized at the federal level.
INBOX: Alabama Gov Kay Ivey signed the state’s medical marijuana bill into law today. [Photo was included in the email and depicts Ivey signing the bill with Sen. Tim Melson — the bill’s primary sponsor] pic.twitter.com/VBY8tZMVqZ
— Natalie Fertig (@natsfert) May 17, 2021
3. The rise of Delta 8
A relatively new cannabis product has seen a huge increase in popularity this year: Delta 8 THC. While similar to the Delta 9 THC we’re used to smoking, Delta 8 is thought to have less potent psychoactive effects.
Delta 8 THC does have psychoactive effects, but they are reported to be much milder. Some cannabis consumers experience severe anxiety or paranoia with Delta 9, but claim this new product eliminates that.
At the same time, Delta 8 has nearly all of the same health benefits as traditional marijuana products, so its a great option for those using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Although it seems you can’t go wrong with consuming Delta 8, its legal status in the United States is on shaky ground. The 2018 Farm Bill declared that any cannabis product with less than 0.3% of THC was legal, but that was in reference to Delta 9, so Delta 8 is caught in a legal grey area.
Thus far, the FDA has not prohibited these products, but they do require approval to be sold. A lot of states have already banned or severely restricted the sale of Delta 8 THC, so its important to keep up with your state’s policies on the product.
Regardless of the legal confusion around these products, Delta 8 THC is greatly benefitting many people across the country and revealing yet another fascinating aspect of the cannabis plant.
Y’all got delta 8 or nah pic.twitter.com/SFIlsCHWUN
— Harrison Stewart (@HarriStew) December 18, 2021
4. Amazon No Longer Drug Testing For Marijuana
Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world, announced this year that failed marijuana drug tests would no longer impact employment. From this year on, THC will no longer be a relevant part of drug screenings for potential Amazon employees.
Because of the rapid increase of cannabis consumption for medical or recreational use, this decision only makes sense. Amazon mentioned this as part of their explanation for the new policy.
This is a decision other companies have made before, but because of Amazon’s heavy influence on America’s economy and its a position as a leader in business, some believe the move will have ripple effects on other large businesses.
We are hopeful that @amazon‘s actions will pave the way for more inclusive and modern drug testing policies to follow, and we are confident this is another positive indication of the increasing public demand for federal cannabis reform.https://t.co/zKr3tUSxCm
— U.S. Cannabis Council (@USCannabisCncl) June 3, 2021
5. Advances in federal legalization
Cannabis is still not federally legal in the United States. However, the federal government is making advances that may make this possible soon.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) act was reintroduced in the summer of this year. This bill would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances.
Under this bill, marijuana is decriminalized, meaning people would no longer receive a criminal penalty for having or selling marijuana. People who have previous convictions involving marijuana could also have their convictions expunged under the MORE act.
Although this bill was approved by the House of Representatives, it has not been approved by the Senate.
Today @HouseJudiciary passed the MORE Act, long overdue legislation that reverses failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana. It also takes steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken on communities across the country.
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) September 30, 2021
While there have been significant advances for cannabis in 2021, there is still a long way to go.
Even so, cannabis enthusiasts have much to celebrate this year, and much to look forward to in the coming year.
We’ll toke to that.