Five states voted on recreational marijuana and four states voted on medical marijuana in 2016. All but one won. But with that victory came the bittersweet victory of a likely unfavorable federal government. Only time will tell how the federal government part works out, but looking at the election results in 2016 from the state side, the citizens have spoken – marijuana reform is supported in a very big way. The election was absolutely the biggest moment of 2016 for the marijuana world.
More States Legislatures Legalize Medical Marijuana
A lot of people are still talking about the states that legalized medical marijuana on Election Day, and rightfully so, but just as many states legalized via legislative action in 2016 as did at the ballot box. Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Ohio all legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Louisiana is particularly big because it was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in the South. When you add the legislative action medical marijuana states to the ballot medical marijuana states from 2016 (Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota – Montana was already legal), it was a very good year for medical marijuana reform in America.
ATF Adds Question to Gun Form
Marijuana is of course illegal at the federal level. A big reminder of that came in 2016 when the ATF added a question to Form 4473 (Firearms Transaction Record) which specifically asks if the buyer consumes marijuana. Federal law prevents marijuana users from purchasing firearms, even if the person lives in a state that has legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana. It puts marijuana consumers in a position in which they either have to refrain from consuming marijuana, or lie on the form in order to purchase a firearm. So far there hasn’t seemed to be a huge push from gun owners rights groups to get the federal government to ease up and it’s an issue that isn’t likely to go away soon.
Canada Court Decision and Marijuana Task Force Recommendations
A landmark court decision was handed down in Canada which shot down prohibitions on home cultivation by medical marijuana patients. That was a very significant event in 2016 and will have ramifications for Canada’s marijuana industry for years to come. When Justin Trudeau was elected, he promised to legalize marijuana in Canada. So far that hasn’t happened, and there have been marijuana raids occurring all over Canada. But a task force was created which conducted some research and recently released a list of recommendations for how to implement marijuana legalization at the national level in Canada. One of the recommendations that caught my eye and that of others was the proposed legal age of 19 years old. We will have to wait and see what, if anything, comes out of the recommendations but a Canada taking a big look at legalization was definitely one of the biggest moments of 2016.
Colorado Sells Over One Billion Dollars Worth of Marijuana
Colorado sold over one billion dollars worth of marijuana in 2016, and that’s without November and December’s totals being added to the overall amount. It’s predicted that the final tally will be somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 billion dollars. That’s a tremendous amount, and it’s just going to keep growing for the foreseeable future. Colorado will eventually fall behind to other states will larger markets, but crossing the one billion dollar mark in 2016 was a big milestone for Colorado and the greater marijuana movement and industry.
Record Gallup Poll
Probably the most linked to news out of 2016 for me was the Gallup poll that showed a record 60% support for marijuana legalization. The poll has been conducted every year since 1969 when only 12% of poll participants supported marijuana reform. It’s really a concise reflection of just how far the marijuana movement has come and is an undeniable fact that marijuana opponents can’t be confronted enough with.
DEA Denies Rescheduling
In not so shocking news, the DEA sucks. The DEA denied a petition to reschedule marijuana, again. There wasn’t a lot of hope that the DEA would do the right thing, but their denial of the petition was defeating news nonetheless.
American Legion Demands for Rescheduling
The American Legion really stepped up this year in support of marijuana reform, which makes sense considering how much marijuana can help veterans but how much of a hard time they have getting sensible advice and safe access to medical marijuana in many instances. They made a very big push for rescheduling and I’m assuming will continue with their push until it happens. They recently met with Trump’s transition team and doubled down on their call for rescheduling, from Schedule I to Schedule III. Descheduling would obviously be preferred, but rescheduling to Schedule III would provide a lot of benefits.
Nebraska Oklahoma Supreme Court Decision to not Hear Oklahoma-Nebraska Lawsuit
Once upon a time Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against Colorado stating that Colorado marijuana legalization was creating big marijuana related problems for Nebraska and Oklahoma being that they are neighboring states. The United States Supreme Court shot down the lawsuit, refusing to hear it. It doesn’t prevent future lawsuits that are out to achieve a similar objective, but it was something that was very closely watched in 2016, and was a welcomed victory. Colorado doesn’t have a legalization problem, Nebraska and Oklahoma have a prohibition problem!
New NORML Director
I am a proud member of the Portland, Oregon NORML chapter, and for the first time in a very long time NORML got a new Executive Director this year. Erik Altieri was an outstanding pick to lead the organization in my opinion, and I look forward to helping support his efforts in any way I can in the future. NORML is as old school as it gets, and I’m a ‘NORML guy’ as my good buddy and former Acting Director of NORML Randy Quast says about himself and is a slogan I have adopted too. The future of marijuana policy in America is very bright but also very uncertain, and I’m excited to see what NORML has planned to help further marijuana policy for marijuana consumers across the country.