2014 was monumental year for marijuana legislation reform around the country. On both state and federal levels huge gains were made towards legalizing and reforming marijuana laws that had long been overdue. Although voter initiatives legalizing cannabis in Alaska and Oregon trumped the list of highlights for the year, as well as Washington D.C.'s decriminalization efforts, here is a brief overview of other cannabis success stories of the year.
American Consensus Says Marijuana Is Safer Than Sugar
According to the Wall Street Journal poll surveyed in March, Americans think that cannabis consumption is less harmful to health than the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and even...you guessed it...sugar. During the survey people were asked which four substances they thought were the most harmful and according to results respondents said that tobacco(49%) was the worst, followed by alcohol (24%), then sugar(15%).
Washington and Colorado Regulate Recreational Marijuana Sales
Washington and Colorado began systematically implementing retail marijuana sales in 2014. Colorado's retail pot program was initiated on January 1st of this year, while Washington's state licensed retail outlets began legally dispensing marijuana to adults 21 and over in July.
Congress Blocks the Feds from Interfering in State-Licensed Medical Marijuana Programs
In December, Congress as well as the President signed a spending legislation, including a provision, which limits the Justice Department from taking criminal action against medical marijuana patients and dispensaries that are in full compliance with medical marijuana laws of their given state. According to the amendment, “none of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Colorado Sponsors Clinical Research for Medical Marijuana Value
Health officials in Colorado approved at least $8 million in state sponsored grant funding to pay for case studies involving the effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana use. Research will assess the medical use and effects of cannabis and cannabidiol (a marijuana derivative) as a treatment for chronic pain, pediatric epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors, cancer, and other ailments.
State Sponsored Hemp Cultivation Becomes Legal
Federal lawmakers in February enacted a provision ending the long-established ban on industrial hemp cultivation. According to legal documents “the amendment authorizes an institution of higher education or State department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes if the laws of the State permit its growth and cultivation.” Thanks to the passed amendment, several state and local governments have initiated growing programs for farmers.
States Recognize Medical Use of Cannabidiol (CBD)
In 2014, eleven states established legislation permitting the use of the marijuana derivative, cannabidiol (CBD), by small children with unrelenting epilepsy. Although CBD legislation was approved in these eleven states, no programs have yet to be implemented, besides Florida and Missouri, which both have in-state sponsored CBD sources. Other states have to rely on the federal government or expected legally qualified patients to obtain CBD from other medical marijuana states.