Curious to know what the important cannabis legal updates were in 2021? We have you covered. The cannabis industry is complex, and has been evolving in a unique way since the early 1960’s across North America, and the globe.
In Canada, cannabis became legal in all provinces and territories for adults who were of age on October 17th, 2018 thanks to the Cannabis Act.
The United States however, has yet to federally legalize the substance, however cannabis has been legalized for recreational use in 18 states. And decriminalized in 13.
New updates are always taking place in the space, and this year was no different. Here are the important legal updates that took place in the cannabis industry in 2021
The Canadian cannabis industry celebrated the third anniversary of the legalization of adult-use cannabis in October this year.
However, consumers and market experts have been critical of the Cannabis Act and other legislation guiding the sale and use of cannabis in Canada, citing concerns about limited information producers are allowed to include on their packaging, potency limitations, and high fees.
In October 2021, the Canadian government launched an 18-month-long statutory review of the federal legislative framework for legal cannabis in Canada. Industry experts hope that the review will address several shortcomings and stabilize some of the shakier parts of the sector.
Since Colorado became the first state to legalize cannabis in 2012, the pace of legalization in the U.S. has been steady, but a definite surge in cannabis legislation was noted in 2020, on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts speculate that, with revenue declining due to the pandemic, governors began looking at cannabis as part of the solution to their budget woes, particularly in the North East, where legislative action tends to cause a domino effect in the region.
On July 14, 2021, Senators Chuck Schumer, Ron Wyden, and Cory Booker made history when they introduced a bill titled The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. Upon passage, the bill would federally legalize cannabis in the U.S.
Among other things, the bill seeks to:
In February 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed 3 bills ending cannabis prohibition in New Jersey, following overwhelming approval in a 2020 referendum. This was followed by the passing of the first set of regulations guiding the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of adult-use cannabis in New Jersey by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission in August 2021.
In March 2021, a law legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York was approved by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers. However, staff delays pushed the drafting and shaping of the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act back to October, slowing the state’s transition into legal recreational use of cannabis.
Connecticut became the 18th state to legalize adult recreational use of cannabis in July 2021, after Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law. As of July 1, 2021, it became legal for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana in Connecticut.
Virginia became the first Southern state to legalize cannabis in April 2021, when lawmakers voted to approve Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed changes to a bill that would allow adults to possess and cultivate small amounts of the drug from July 1, 2021. The bill would allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis without intent to distribute, but public use would be prohibited.
On May 17, 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill legalizing the medical use of cannabis in Alabama. However, efforts to decriminalize the non-medical use of cannabis fell short after a bill tabled by Sen. Bobby Singleton was indefinitely postponed and did not receive a vote.
Many people in the cannabis space in the USA are following federal legalization updates very closely as a shift in the federal government landscape would mean huge banking updates and less barrier to entry.
However no large changes have been announced as of yet.
Other updates however include less regulation around substances that are derived from cannabis, including CBD, hemp products and low cannabis beverage consumables.
The future is always evolving, and we are excited to see what it holds.
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