iHustle: How the Cannabis Industry Has Evolved

The Cannabis industry has evolved so much throughout the years. Back when President Barack Obama was elected president, only 13 states had legalized medical marijuana and none had allowed its use recreationally. By the time Donald Trump was elected, those numbers had more than doubled for medical marijuana use and it had become legal in eight states for recreational use.

While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, attitudes towards its legalization at all levels are quickly changing. In recent years, we have seen increased support in public opinion polls, policy shifts in the White House, a desire to address the issue in Congress, and state policymakers tackling the issue more and more. 

As more states enact and implement legal marijuana programs, there is a growing urgency for federal policy change to ensure that states regulate as responsibly and safely as possible, which is extremely important.

Over the last two decades, the map of state marijuana laws has undergone a significant transformation. 

California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in 1996. Other states slowly followed suit, and what began as a trickle has now become a flood. In the last few years, the number of states passing laws to allow the legal use of marijuana in some form has skyrocketed.

The landscape has drastically changed across the country. Marijuana legalization has become the new normal.

Support for legalizing recreational marijuana has long lagged behind medical, but it is rapidly gaining. This increase in support for marijuana legalization is happening not only across age groups but also political parties. The last several decades have seen a surprising change in public opinion on marijuana legalization. Unlike public opinion, federal law regarding marijuana hasn’t changed since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970—but federal enforcement of those laws has significantly evolved over time.

Under President George W. Bush, the federal government avidly enforced the federal marijuana ban. While no state had yet legalized recreational marijuana, there were 8 who had legalized medical marijuana by the time he took office and 5 more did so before he had wrapped up his second term. President Barack Obama’s time in office saw a large increase of state legalization, and as the landscape changed, his administration introduced some policy changes. As a presidential candidate, Obama pledged to roll back the aggressive enforcement polices of the Bush era, and initially upon taking office, he did so.

The biggest turning point for the Obama Administration and federal marijuana policy came after the 2012 election—when Colorado and Washington became the very first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. While the Obama Administration took great steps to alter the way the federal government enforces federal marijuana policy, none of these changes are permanent, and none have actually resolved the continuing conflict between state and federal laws on marijuana.

And presently, under President Trump, the future of federal marijuana enforcement is still uncertain. While the President has suggested in public remarks that marijuana—or at least its medical use—should be left up to the states, his administration has been taking steps that indicate hostility toward state laws. Though it has become remarkably difficult to predict the actions of President Trump and his White House, it seems fair to assume that they will not be leading the charge on reform.

As you can see, the last several decades have seen massive changes in state laws, public opinion, and administration policy. A detailed analysis of the ten states to most recently legalize medical marijuana legislatively finds that most bills passed with large majorities, regardless of the party controlling the chamber.

When Vermont became the first state in the nation to pass a recreational legalization bill, it did so with healthy majorities as well—20-9 in the Senate and 79-66 in the House. Increasingly, marijuana reform is becoming a bipartisan issue in state legislatures, regardless of the party in power. That is especially true for medical legalization, which is now the law of the land in the majority of states.

It seems obvious that legalizing medical marijuana is not a political liability for governors or state legislatures. In fact, given the overwhelming popularity of medical marijuana, just the opposite may prove to be true going forward, especially as more states legalize and those that do not are getting left behind.

State policymakers have led the way on marijuana reform. More than half of the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana did so legislatively, and more are likely to follow. The growing bipartisan nature of state reforms and the absence of any major political consequences for those policymakers who enacted them illustrate that policymakers can feel comfortable publicly supporting legalization, regardless of party affiliation.

The policy landscape has changed dramatically around marijuana during the past 20 years. Roughly 98% of Americans live in states that permit some use of medical marijuana and roughly one-fifth of the country’s population lives in states where recreational use is also legal. Public support for legalization—and opposition to federal enforcement—is at the highest levels ever seen. And while there is uncertainty about what course the Trump Administration will take on marijuana policy, support in Congress and statehouses nationwide continues to grow. Increasingly, federal policymakers are recognizing the conflict between state and federal laws and are working to proactively to address it. That’s critical, because as the number of states where marijuana is legal expands, the need for responsible, safe and smart governance is more important than ever.

In other legalization news, recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada! Canada is only the second country in the entire world, and the first G7 nation, to implement legislation to permit a nationwide marijuana market.The act to legalize the recreational use of weed was first introduced on April 13, 2017, and was later passed at the House of Commons that November. The Senate passage of the bill was the final hurdle in the process.

The first country to legalize marijuana's production, sale and consumption was Uruguay in December of 2013. Although the Canadian government had initially stated its intent to implement by July 2018, provinces and territories, who will be responsible for drafting their own rules for marijuana sales, have advised that they would require 8 to 12 weeks after the Senate approval to transition to the new framework.

The government is expected to choose a date in early or mid September. Once the bill is formally approved, adults will be able to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public. A majority of people actually use cannabis in microdoses to help them focus and be effective with what they do. May it be that you are a photographer, artist or entrepreneur, some find it very helpful to use the beneficial components of cannabis. Check out the video below.

They also will be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households and prepare products such as edibles for personal use. However, stringent rules will still govern the purchase and use of marijuana.

Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from retailers regulated by provinces, territories or -- when neither of those options are available -- federally licensed producers. Marijuana will also not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. As you can see, this is an exciting time for the age of marijuana legalization, as things are quickly changing. Who knows what the future could hold for not only our country, but the rest of the world!