2020 has been a challenging year for a lot of people, businesses, and industries. There’s just no getting around that. Basically, we all just want to kinda forget about it and move on. But for the marijuana industry, it was quite the opposite.
The year proved to be momentous for drug liberalization. The legalization & decriminalization winds flung at every level– from the UN, the USA, to Ghana, have significantly transformed and accelerated the Marijuana Industry. As a roundup of 2020, we have covered some of the most significant drug reforms that happened in 2020. Let’s recap each of those events in brief.
UN Removes Cannabis From The Dangerous Drug List
In the major development at the year-end– in December 2020, the United Nations reclassified cannabis as a less dangerous drug and voted to remove it from the most risky narcotics list (Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), which includes heroin and cocaine.
This historical move will bolster marijuana research, medical use, and legalization efforts around the world. This long-delayed and highly anticipated decision is believed to have been taken after a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) experts.
Although this move will not have any immediate impact, it will definitely act as a catalyst for many countries to legalize medical use, which looks to global conventions for guidance. Besides positive financial impact, lowering the dangers of cannabis may have the most significant impact on countries with conservative policies.
15 US States Legalized Recreational Marijuana While 38 Allowed Medical Marijuana
Drug reform was one of the influential issues in the US election. Election Day 2020 has added five more states– New Jersey, Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Montana, into the state-list that legalized Marijuana. With this move, now there are 15 states plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized recreational marijuana.
The election of 2020 has also helped the tally of states that approved medical Marijuana to touch the 38 mark. Now, in 38 states and Washington, D.C., it’s legal to buy and consume medical weed, although the laws of possession, distribution, and cultivation are varied from state to state.
The winds of reform in the US further moved a month later in December by another historic move –vote to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
US House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana At The Federal Level
In early December, US house legislators historically voted for the first time decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level. After the drug was listed as a “controlled substance” in 1970, this was the first time that Congress voted to end the federal ban.
Even after 15 states and the Districts of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, and over 35 states allow medical marijuana use, the ban on drugs persists at the federal level. This bill is believed to be a step forward in bringing federal laws in parallel with state laws.
If the bill passes through the republican ruled senate and enacts into law, The MORE act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement act) will expunge previous convictions and release weed criminals from prison jailed for marijuana-related offences. The bill will also invest the 5% tax collected on cannabis products in communities most adversely impacted by criminalization laws.
Oregano Becomes Maiden US State To Decriminalize Hard Drugs For Personal Use
In November month, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize all types of drugs usage. Measure 110, a ballot initiative, passed with more than 58% of the votes. This law will allow the possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other hard drugs for personal use. The possession of any of these drugs will not be considered a criminal offence in Oregon.
However, it is necessary to know that the law allows consumption, not sale. Selling them is still against the law, while personal use is not. Oregon’s new decriminalization policy will also use tax revenue earned from cannabis sales to rehabilitate people with drug addiction and the upbringing of communities adversely affected by the federal laws.
Ghana Decriminalized All Drugs
Many African countries are tapping into the lucrative marijuana market, legalizing and relaxing laws on cannabis in the continent. Latest name on the list is Ghana.
In March, the Government of Ghana passed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill. The bill allows the use and cultivation of Marijuana for medical and industrial uses. The bill also limits the THC level to 0.3% in every hemp product– the same level permitted in the US farm bill 2018.
Before Ghana, one more African country– Malawi, had also legalized Marijuana for medical use in February 2020. Other four African countries that have legalized medical Marijuana are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Lesotho.
New Zealand Allows Illegal Drugs To Be Tested At Festivals
At the beginning of December, the New Zealand government passed a law allowing firms to test illegal drugs at the festival and in city centres, letting pill users know the strength and what’s really in them.
The Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill was easily passed in the parliament by a whopping majority. Except for the New Zealand National Party, all other parties including New Zealand Labor Party, ACT New Zealand, the Green Party, and Maori Party supported the bill.
The drug-checking practice was operating in New Zealand for years, but it was illegal and considered a criminal offence. But with this bill, drug testing service becomes legal operation during summer festival 2020-21.
However, the possession of illegal drugs and substances by public members still remains illegal and will be considered a criminal offence.
Along with these major developments, there are some good news from other countries and states too.
- Argentina, Switzerland, Thailand, Australia, Columbia, and Israel have decriminalized medical or recreational marijuana use.
- Moreover, the major Canadian city– Vancouver’s city council also unanimously voted to decriminalize drugs.
With all this positive news, it is not exaggerated to say that 2020 has been an incredible year for the marijuana industry– we can certainly call it a year of drug liberalization! Let’s hope that the liberalization & decriminalization winds continue to flow across the world in 2021 too.