BY MARIE LODI
Photograph by NordWood Themes/Unsplash
If you thought last year was a particularly major for the cannabis world, you’d be correct, but 2019 was just as memorable. A few highlights: Everyone jumped on the CBD bandwagon (who doesn’t have a beauty, food or pet line at this point?), progress was made on the legal front, and celebs are flocking to the industry. Ahead, a look back on the year that was.
1. Illinois Goes Recreational
In May, the state voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use, making it the 11th to do so. On June 25, it became law and come January 1, anyone 21 or older can shop at state licensed stores. You’ll be able to get up to 30 grams of flower, 500 milligrams of edibles, and five grams of concentrate.
2. Texas Expands Medical Access
Also in May, Texas, which is a medical marijuana state, expanded its list of conditions that can be treated. Previously, it was only epileptic patients but now if you have Parkinson's disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, spasticity, or autism, you qualify.
3. A Game Changing Banking Act Stalls
On September 25th, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would allow banks and financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses and clients, made it through the House of Representative. It’s headed to the Senate, where unfortunately GOP senators have shown little support.
4. You Can Finally Buy Cannabis in Michigan
While Michigan went recreational in 2018, sales only began recently, and demand has been so high, dispensaries can barely keep up. As of December, you’re able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of flower.
5. Presidential Candidates Get Behind Legalization
Democratic candidates (past and present) like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Sen. Cory Booker all voiced their support for federal legalization and reform. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden still thinks cannabis is a “gateway drug.”
6. An Important Reform Act Makes Progress
In November, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. If it goes into law, cannabis would be removed as a Schedule 1 Controlled substance. Also businesses can apply for loans and grants through the Small Business Administration and military veterans would be able to get medical access (if their state allows) via Veteran Affairs.
7. The FDA Debates CBD
With over 100 speakers including researchers, farmers, and manufacturers, the nearly 10 hour hearing was the first of its kind. In addition to expert testimony, more than 4000 people shared their CBD experiences. While there hasn’t been much movement from the FDA in regards to regulation, it’s a sign that the topic will be a major talking point for years to come.
8. Everyone’s Making CBD Things
After the passing of last year’s Hemp Farming Act, CBD is the new hot new ingredient. It's not just limited to things you can eat and drink -- you'll find it in everything from skincare to makeup to activewear.
9. Cafes Are the Next Wave
If you like to smoke and eat good food at the same time, Lowell Farms opened the country’s first cannabis cafe in West Hollywood. You can order up some flower and pair it with a menu designed by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Andrea Drummer. And they're not alone -- more are slated to come in 2020.
10. Celebs Saw Green
Longtime celebrity advocates like Snoop Dogg, Whoopi Goldberg, and Willie Nelson established their own businesses years ago. This year they were joined by other stars like John Legend, Martha Stewart, Melissa Etheridge, Drake, and Lil Wayne.