Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, it was illegal to get high in American schools, and the smart phone vape was still a figment of someone’s imagination. Not so now.
Here, in the twilight of 2015, legalization has spread wildly, with more governments than ever before waking up to the fact that it only makes sense. Much of the momentum is stemming from Canada, where the notoriously hot new prime minister stands firmly behind legalization. We’ve compiled a rundown of the biggest weed news of 2015.
Legalization support grows in U.S.
As of now, marijuna is fully legal in four states. (A county sheriff even admitted it was for the best). Other states are hot on their heels, with advocates in Michigan pushing to make their state a fifth, and with Massachusetts getting another step closer to legalizing weed for recreational use by 2016 after an approval from Attorney General Maura Healey. Momentum also built in California to fully legalize what is already a widely accessed medicine.
In December, Obama told the Supreme Court to stay in its lane when it came to a dispute between Colorado and its neighboring states, who are mad about the fact that more weed is supposedly floating across state borders. And earlier this year, his administration removed another major obstacle: the Public Health Service Review, which heavily regulated marijuana research. If elected, Bernie Sanders says he might straight up legalize weed across the board. In November, he introduced a senate bill to end cannabis prohibition. Weed is even legal in schools now: the first U.S. school — Lark School in New Jersey — approved medicinal use after governor Chris Christie signed a bill allowing its use. While smoking is still not approved, edible or liquid marijuana is permissible on school grounds under the new policy.
So did countries both sides of the border
Canada’s model-esque prime minister Justin Trudeau is making at least one of his campaign promises come true. A couple of weeks after being sworn in as PM, he ordered the justice department to begin the legalization process. And in at least one province, the premier wants weed to be sold in liquor stores, an idea that may easily spread throughout the U.S.
The humble plant’s legal status is looking up in the Caribbean, too. Jamaica’s first legal weed was planted in April, and in May, Puerto Rico legalized the use of medicinal weed. Over in South America, Ecuador may be about to become the second country to legalize it, after Uruguay.
Medicinal bud legalization is spreading
At the tail end of the year, the federal prohibition on medical marijuana came to an end, which means the feds will no longer interfere with dispensaries in states where medical weed is legal. In the U.S., medicinal weed was legalized in Minnesota in early July.
Up North, predictably, stoney old Canada is making strides in this department as well: Some dispensaries don’t even require a prescription for medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis is even catching on in countries where weed has historically received a bad rap. This year, Australia is finally accepting the herb’s medicinal qualities, with federal health minister Sussan Ley announcing in October that she plans to introduce legislation to allow the use of bud in medical trials. Over in Italy, the military, of all things, unveiled the country’s first crop of medicinal weed in April.
…And with tangible results
According to one study, the proliferation of dispensaries is reducing the number of deaths from drug overdoses. Not only that, in August the Cancer Institute straight up said weed kills cancer, and following that, researchers in China have found that herb may show promise for treating yet another kind of cancer, backing up the claim.
Celebrities are capitalizing on the herb
Celebrities from Willie Nelson to Snoop Dogg to Freddie Gibbs are working on lines of weed products including smokeables, edibles and accessories. It was even briefly rumored that Bad Gal RiRi would come out with her own line (terribly and cringeworthily dubbed MaRihanna), but her people denied the rumors. Speaking of the pot queen, though, she continues to be out and proud about her love for the ganja, puffing on a huge spliff as she hangs the wife of a man who prevented her from getting her money in the video for BBHMM.
…And so are common stoners
This year in Oregon, stoners harnessed the uber-capitalist power of Black Friday to sell discount weed. About 25 dispensaries around the state sold local weed for $20 per quarter ounce, to be exact. The same trend spread through Washington and Colorado.
Stoner-specific entertainment gets its due attention
And stoners prove they can also be innovative inventors
Despite the common perception that stoners are slackers, a phone has just been invented that is also…a vape! Stealth power has never been so alive. Inventions have also hit the market for those who want to customize their experience: A brand new company, Ebbu, launched a line of oils this summer that let the consumer choose their mood. Whether it’s chill, creative or energetic, they’ve got a bottled high for that.
Stoner sex just got a little easier to orchestrate
Gone are the days of wading through dating profiles of holier-than-thou humans (or liars) claiming they don’t smoke. In 2015, there were no fewer than three stoner-specific dating sites on offer, High There!, 420 Singles, and 420 Mate.
It can safely be said that 2015 saw a marked deflation in much of the stigma surrounding marijuana use. Slowly, weed is shedding its mainstream stigma as a slacker’s substance and beginning to be recognized for its medicinal powers.
As we move into 2016, more states are on the verge of at least approving weed on a medicinal basis and soon, it seems, we’ll be able to pick up a pack of joints when we stop for gas.
My only real concern is what will happen to the lovely weed-peddling entrepreneurs who have been so good to me all of these years? Let’s hope they find a way to stay in business.