A lot has changed over the past five to 10 years when it comes to marijuana laws across the world. But no one year has ever had more impactful changes made than what has happened in 2018.
With over four months still left to go in 2018, it’s already been, almost undeniably, the most impactful year for marijuana reform in the world’s history. Here’s a list of reasons why this is the case:
Canada legalized marijuana for everyone 18+
This is the big one. In 2018 Canada became just the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana, following Uruguay in 2013. Not only does Canada have a population over ten times the size of Uruguay’s (36 million to around 3.4 million), Canada’s legalization law is far more progressive. Whereas Uruguay has a monthly limit of 40 grams, Canada has no monthly, weekly or even daily limit; you’re just limited to what you can have on you at one time, which is an ounce. Canada’s law allows brick and mortar marijuana stores, and also allows marijuana to be sold online, where you’ll be able to have it delivered to your home once the system is up and running.
Vermont became the ninth U.S. State with legal marijuana
On July 1, Vermont became state number nine in the U.S. to allow those 21 and older to legally possess marijuana for personal use. This marks a continuing trend towards legalization, and continues the momentum that began in 2012 when Washington and Colorado became the first to legalize the plant (making 2012 another contender for Best Year Ever for Marijuana Reform, though it still falls short of 2018).
Zimbabwe, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Portugal all legalized medical marijuana.
Following the trend of nations embracing marijuana as a legitimate medicine, Zimbabwe, Luxembourg, Portugal and the United Kingdom (and there’s probably others we’re missing) all passed some type of law this year legalizing marijuana as a medicine. Given the diverse range of political and cultural climates in these nations, the fact that they’re all passing laws to legalize the same thing at around the same time is a clear example of how quickly the tides are shifting in regards to the worldwide perception of marijuana.
A large number of federal lawmakers in the U.S., including most of the leading presidential candidates on the Democratic side for 2020 as well as the Senate minority leader, signed on to legislation to end marijuana prohibition
Marijuana legalization became mainstream in 2018 in a way that was unheard of just a few years prior. Nearly all of the Democratic Party’s leading presidential candidates for 2020 – including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala D. Harris – have come out in support of legalization. The Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier this year introduced legislation to end marijuana prohibition on the federal level; his bill, and others like it, have garnered the support of dozens of lawmakers. Even President Trump this year announced that he supports state rights in regards to marijuana laws and will support legislation to change federal law.
Oklahoma, one of the most conservative states in the U.S., approved one of the nation’s most progressive medical marijuana laws.
In June Oklahoma voters, despite being some of the most conservative voters in the country, did an interesting thing; they passed a law that allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana for literally any condition they feel could benefit from it. This gives patients the ability to possess, grow and purchase (from a licensed dispensary) marijuana and marijuana-infused products such as edibles and tinctures.
Medical marijuana has now been legalized in 60% of U.S. states.
Northern Mariana Islands becomes first U.S. territory to legalize recreational marijuana.
Although the Northern Mariana Islands are small compared to most states in the U.S. (a population of around 55,000), it’s still an important event when a U.S. territory becomes the first to ever legalize marijuana. The Norther Mariana Islands Parliament passed legalization legislation earlier this month.
The constitutional court for the nation of Georgia legalized marijuana possession for personal use.
Because of a court ruling, marijuana possession for personal use is now legal in Georgia. The decision by the country’s constitutional court allowed marijuana reform advocates to bypass the legislative process in order to have legalization take effect (although the ruling doesn’t legalize marijuana stores).
Israel pharmacies begin selling medical marijuana
In April Israel began selling medical marijuana through licensed pharmacies. Having the plant sold alongside other prescription drugs brought with it a sense of legitimacy that has had an impact even in the United States.