The 10 most significant weed stories from the past year, ranked

The 10 most significant weed stories from the past year, ranked

VicesDecember 28, 2016 By Brian Frederick

Weed, it's inescapable right now. From a scary new Attorney General (tentatively) to sales numbers climbing through the roof, the cannabis industry and its stories dominate the national news cycle almost daily. And for good reason, too: because people care.

Here are the 10 most significant stories from the past 12 months, ranked so that people can get mad about how we rank things.

10. CBDs and the DEA

This wasn’t so much a story as it was the media perpetuating a false narrative to stir the pot. A few weeks back, stories went viral claiming the DEA had just made CBDs (the non-psychoactive ‘medicinal’ component of weed) illegal — more illegal than cocaine and meth, even. That simply wasn’t true, but got a lot of people pissed off and talking about future implications of a new administration anyway.

Long story short: You’re safe, and your CBDs are, too.

9. Colorado's Social Use

Even though the country has seen a massive shift in approval of cannabis, and more and more states continue to follow the legalized suit, using it outside of one’s own home or private property is still a challenge. In November, Denver, Colo. passed its Initiative 300, or social use initiative. It states that companies can now seek permits to allow on-site use of cannabis (with a few restrictions). When we spoke with Kayvan Khalatbari, founding partner of Denver Relief Consulting and co-author of the initiative, he said he's hopeful this brings about change in the public's perception, even though its reach isn't so widespread.

Long story short: Public use is coming, albeit in small, incremental steps.

8. Obama's Support

At the end of November, in an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama gave a positive nod to the cannabis industry, stating it should be treated like alcohol, for obvious reasons. “Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” he said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

Long story short: Support like this goes a long way.

7. Historical Sales

For the first time in legalization’s history, Colorado surpassed $1 billion in sales through medical and recreational pot. Last year, the state came close, reporting $996 million through 2015. This year, it only took 10 months to surpass that, as the state had already collected $1.1 billion by the end of October. If the statewide industry can top the projected $1.3 billion, it would mean that there was a 30 percent spike in sales from the previous year. Likewise, experts predict the nationwide industry to reach nearly $22 billion in total annual sales by 2020 — still a far cry from alcohol’s $219 billion haul in 2015.

Long story short: People are buying a lot of weed.

6. Opioid Help

In July of 2016, researchers W. David Bradford and his daughter, Ashley C. Bradford, co-published a compelling study about medical marijuana and its effects on opioid addictions. They found that when states legalized weed, prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs dropped significantly. As TIME Magazine reports: “Doctors in a state where marijuana was legal prescribed an average of 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers per year.”

Long story short: Big Pharma is freaking out right now.

5. Public Opinion

In October, the Pew Research Center announced that “support for marijuana legalization continues to rise” — stating that 57 percent of Americans now say the use of it should be made legal. Just a short decade ago, only 32 percent favored legalization.

Long story short: The perception scale has officially tipped.

4. The Youths

Contrary to popular belief, kids in weed-friendly states just simply aren’t jumping on the bandwagon as much as naysayers had hoped. In a recently revised report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the organization claims the use of weed (and many other substances) is at its lowest level since the survey’s inception. “Marijuana use declined among 8th and 10th graders and remains unchanged among 12th graders compared to 5 years ago, despite the changing state marijuana laws.”

Long story short: The kids are alright.

3. More and More

In the November election, four more states voted to legalize recreational marijuana (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada), while three others accepted the medicinal use of it (Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas). In fact, only one state’s marijuana initiative failed, in Arizona, by about 85,000 votes out of the 2.4 million taken in.

Long story short: There are now 26 states (and D.C.) that allow some form of legalized weed. The future is now.

2. Jeff "alt-right" Sessions

After the votes were counted and president-elect Donald Trump got to work, he made more than a few unsettling announcements that shook the cannabis community, most notably for his choice of the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Why is this such a big deal? Well he’s a colossal dick, for one. But he’s also extremely anti-pot, even going so far as to joke that the KKK was “ok, until I found out they smoked pot.”

Long story short: At this point, no one really knows what Sessions will do if he even gets the job. Hold tight.

1. Justin Trudeau. Wait, who?

In October, Canada elected a new prime minister by the name of Justin Trudeau, a man who represents Canada’s Liberal Party. Big deal, right? Except, Trudeau ran largely under the premise that he and his team would “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” countrywide. This is a big deal for Canada, and the rest of the world’s countries that may soon follow suit.

Long story short: Of course Canada will be the first major country to legalize. Of course it will.

Honorable Mentions:

Celebrity Endorsements

When high profile celebrities are willing to put their names on things, you know there’s strength in the business. Just this year, Willie’s Reserve, Sublime with Rome, Tommy Chong and Wiz Khalifa (and probably more) made noteworthy moves within various markets. It’s a trend that will only continue to grow, given massive projections of the cannabis industry — but know that just because there’s a fancy label on it, it might not be worth it.

Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart

Likely one of the most bizarre couples to come out of the last epoch, rapper Snoop Dogg and everyone’s mom, Martha Stewart, teamed up for a hilarious cooking show on VH1. It’s not exclusively about weed, but … come on.

'This is you brain on drugs'

Not long before the election, Rooster Magazine called John Roselius, the ‘egg-guy’ actor in the iconic “This is your brain on drugs” PSA commercials from the late ‘80s. We asked him if he supported (and voted for) recreational use of marijuana in California. He replied: “I'm 100 percent behind legalizing it, are you kidding? It's healthier than alcohol. And the violence is 99 percent down from alcohol."

There you have it.