There’s no denying that 2015 was a monumental year for cannabis, and that the major events of this past year will have an enormous impact on the economic markets, as well as the cultural significance of, legal cannabis for years to come. Here’s a brief summary of a few of the headline catching events of 2015, and how they might affect us all in the year to come.
1. the year the stoner stereotype died
While there’s no specific date for the first “event” of 2015, we’re calling the year out as the beginning of the death of the “stoner” stereotype. For far too long marijuana use has really only been examined by mainstream America through two lenses: the war on drugs, and Hollywood’s portrayal of the “stoner”:
As more states legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, as more scientists and doctors research it’s effects, and as elected officials continue to call for the removal of the federal ban on marijuana, the clearer the lens becomes for those looking at marijuana through the lens of the war on drugs. It’s really hard to call a child suffering from epilepsy a “stoner” when CBD oil has been the only thing that has ever helped curb their symptoms. And as mainstream America begins to see videos of sweet old grandmas hitting a bong, or listening to Afroman’s updated version of Because I got High, or hearing from countless famous cannabis consumers, the clearer the lens becomes for those who’ve really only examined marijuana use through an entertainment lens.
It’s becoming increasingly harder to apply the lazy stoner stereotype to so many different types of people. We do, however, acknowledge that the classic stoner stereotype will always apply to a certain percentage of those who consume cannabis (as any stereotype might apply to some percentage of any group), but even the stereotype alone is evolving and becoming more embraced.
For the second year in a row, a Girl Scout in San Francisco set up her cookie stand outside of a dispensary, selling 208 boxes of cookies in just two hours. The relaxed soccer mom and similar personas, are now rejecting false stereotypes about cannabis and the “dangers” it presents. And old guard vs. new guard vs. green rush entrepreneurs, are starting to identify unique opportunities to develop market niches that look nothing like Cheech, Snoop or Spicoli.
2. celebrity cannabis
Celebrity brands began to emerge on the coattails of the late 2014 announcement of Marley Naturals by “cannabis conglomerate” Privateer Holdings. The most notable of those penning their names to product lines in 2015 included: Willie Nelson, Rihanna (maybe?), and Melissa Etheridge.
3. U.S. surgeon general admits “marijuana can be helpful”
In February, US Surgeon General Vivek Murphy was quoted on CBS This Morning saying, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful.”
4. the compassionate access, research expansion and respect states act (CARERS)
For the first time in United States history, three sitting US senators introduced a bill in March of 2015 to change the way the country deals with cannabis. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS) earned bipartisan support being co-sponsored by democrats Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
5. puerto rico legalizes medicinal marijuana
In May, Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla issued an executive order that authorizes the use of cannabis in Puerto Rico for medicinal purposes. Massachusetts, Illinois and Nevada also opened their first medical dispensaries.
6. closer to getting U.S. vets access to cannabis care
US Senators voted, for first time, to increase access to cannabis for US Veterans. The Daines/Merkley amendment, which permits physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans in states that allow for its therapeutic use, prompted powerhouse Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – and other democratic senators – to send letters urging Health & Human Services, DEA and ONDCP to ease restrictions on medical cannabis research in July.
7. majority of americans support legalization
As Fall rolled across the American continent, seismic shifts began to reveal cracks in the prohibition argument. A new Gallup poll revealed 58% of Americans supported full-on legalization of marijuana.
8. california gets ready to end pot prohibition
California Governor Jerry Brown, overseer of the most populous state, signed into law three bills establishing a framework for what is likely to become the largest legal marijuana market in the world.
9. oregon opens rec stores
Further establishing the Left Coast as the Best Coast, Oregon commenced legal recreational sales on Oct. 1, 2015, and so far sales have been booming!
10. our neighbors got closer to legalization
Canada elected pro-pot Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Just as noteworthy, Mexico’s high court (pardon the pun) ruled growing marijuana for personal consumption a “personal right”, paving the way for future legalization efforts.
11. ohio rejects marijuana monopoly
This year Ohio voters revealed they weren’t swayed purely by the notion of legalization. Rather they understand when a law is bad and rejected a ballot measure heavily funded by the rich and somewhat famous that would have created a state run monopoly. Or it could have been that voters really hated the idea of being pandered to by a pro-pot mascot.
As 2015 fades into distant memory and we turn our attention to 2016 and the impending year, it’s difficult to deny that the tides have changed. It’s clear that 2015 was a turning point, however, 2016 is shaping up to be the tipping point when elections take center stage in November. Should even the unfathomable happen and a Republican win the White House, our Nation has moved unapologetically in favor of ending cannabis prohibition. Well done, America. Now, let’s hold on tight and continue to support each other in 2016. Momentum is in our favor. The end of prohibition is near!