The start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of what's to come over the next 12 months, and in the world of cannabis, 2022 is poised to be a year full of major stories. Here are three things to keep an eye on.
GROWING LIKE A WEEDLegalization came to eight states last year, and early signs point to a similar number joining the club in 2022. Legislators in five states — Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and New Hampshire — have pre-filed bills for the 2022 session that would bring legalization to their states. Meanwhile, activists in seven states — Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota — have been cleared to gather signatures for 2022 ballot measures on legalization.
At the federal level there are proposals for federal legalization emerging from both sides of the aisle. There are also a number of smaller bills set to work their way through Congress this year focusing on specific aspects of cannabis policy such as social equity, banking regulations, protections for veterans and red tape surrounding research.
PUBLIC OPINION PLATEAUWhen Gallup first polled Americans on the issue of cannabis legalization back in 1969, just 12 percent of respondents were in favor. In 2013 that number climbed above 50 percent and kept rising to 68 percent by 2021. However, that was no change from 2020, when it also sat at 68 percent. Since 2017, support nationally has been hovering in the mid-60 range. After decades of support in the 20-30 percent range, could the mid-60s be the new normal when it comes to support for legalization?
AN IMPORTANT ANNIVERSARYOn Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, Washington voters passed Initiative 502 by a margin of 55.7 percent to 44.3. With that, the state became, along with Colorado, the first in the nation to legalize cannabis. One month later, the will of the voters became law, and on Dec. 6, 2012, possession and use of cannabis by adults in the state of Washington was officially legal.
In the 10 years since, the state's legal market has grown from nonexistent to a thriving sector of the economy. Perhaps nothing better illustrates how important the cannabis market has become than when it was declared to be essential during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.
The 10-year anniversary of the vote to legalize cannabis in Washington happens to fall on a weekend, creating a perfect opportunity for those who wish to celebrate. ♦