We’ve officially made it through the hellscape that is 2022. To be honest, this was one of my most difficult years to date, but also one of my most transformative. I have achieved more this year than many other years, even though it feels like I didn’t.
Within the cannabis world, there have been many top stories this year and I think it’s always a good idea to keep them in mind as we pass on to the next year. Therefore, I went on Reddit and found the top stories for the term “cannabis” in 2022, and summarized them all for you.
This will give you a birds’ eye perspective on how much was achieved this year, at least in terms of the most popular stories of 2022 according to Reddit.
So here we go!
Thailand has become the first Asian country to allow the growing of marijuana at home and to remove it from its list of banned substances. The move is intended to promote marijuana as a cash crop, boost the wellness and tourism industries, and allow its use in traditional medicine and cooking. Recreational use remains a grey area, with offenders facing up to three months’ jail or fines of up to $800. The law change will also see around 4,000 prisoners serving time for cannabis-related crimes released and their records for those offences deleted. The Thai government hopes the new policy will help establish a legal marijuana industry in the country, with the global legal cannabis market expected to be worth $175.5bn by 2028.
- Biden Pardons Federal Marijuana-Possession (only) Convictions, freeing zero people but setting a precedent
President Biden has announced that he will pardon everyone who has been convicted of simple possession of marijuana under federal law, representing a significant move towards decriminalization. The pardons will also include those convicted of simple possession in the District of Columbia.
The White House estimates that the pardons could benefit around 6,500 people, though officials have stated that there is no one currently in federal prison for simple marijuana possession. However, there are many more people who have been convicted under state law.
In addition, President Biden has asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to expeditiously review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. While marijuana is illegal under federal law, many states have legalized it for recreational or medical purposes. As a candidate, President Biden did not fully endorse the legalization of recreational marijuana, but he did support moving towards decriminalization. The President stated that “too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.” The White House is also urging governors to take similar action.
While not insignificant, this was clearly more of a “appeasing the public prior to November mid-terms” than an actual move towards actual cannabis reform.
- Oregon Governor Pardons 45,000 people convicted for marijuana possession within the state.
As a direct result of our #2 story, the governor of Oregon pardoned tens of thousands. The governor of Oregon is granting a mass pardon for state-level marijuana possession offenses that will provide relief to an estimated 45,000 people.
Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) cannabis clemency action comes about a month after President Joe Biden issued thousands of pardons for federal marijuana possession cases and called on governors to follow suit. Pardons typically provide more limited relief than expungements, but the governor said the Oregon Judicial Department will additionally be working with courts to formally seal all applicable possession records.
Brown’s office says that they’ve identified 47,144 convictions for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana that took place before 2016 that will be cleared from the records of an estimated 45,000 people. The fact that the estimated relief for possession cases alone in one state is in the tens of thousands underscores what advocates have been pointing out in the weeks since Biden’s clemency announcement: the vast majority of marijuana convictions take place at the state level, which the president has no power to remedy.
Governors from states across the U.S. have given mixed responses about their plans for marijuana clemency in light of the president’s directive, with some pledging to analyze their options and others noting that their authority is limited. Congressional researchers released a report last week that provides a point-by-point overview of the limitations of the president’s mass marijuana pardon, including that state restriction. Activists with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and DCMJ staged protests outside of the White House last month to demand that Biden also release the estimated 2,800 people currently in federal prison for marijuana convictions that aren’t limited to simple possession.
- Colorado Town Positively Impacted by Cannabis Legalization it considered changing its name to Kush!
Cannabis has benefitted many people. In Colorado one town decided to potentially change their name to Kush to celebrate this impact.
The small town of Moffat in Colorado is considering changing its name to “Kush,” a slang term for cannabis, due to the significant impact that the cannabis industry has had on the town. Moffat, which has around 120 residents, has seen the number of licenses for cannabis cultivation increase from two to over 70 in the past six years, largely due to Area 420, a company that licenses land for cannabis cultivation.
The proposal for the name change came from the owner and founder of Area 420, Mike Biggio, and was discussed at a town hall meeting in June. While not all residents were in favor of the name change, Mayor Cassandra Foxx said it is exciting and a good representation of the region and the industry being promoted in the town. The next step in the name change process would be for a resident to start a petition.
Can you imagine living in “Kush Colorado?” I hope more towns follow suit!
- US Cannabis laws impacting Pharma Bottom Line by BILLIONS! [STUDY]
Cannabis, which is classified as a Schedule I drug with no medical use and high risk of abuse, has shown potential therapeutic benefits for a wide range of conditions. In the US, 33 states had legalized medical access to cannabis for severe, debilitating conditions by 2020. Legalization could allow cannabis to compete with conventional pharmaceuticals, acting as a new generic entrant following medical legalization and leading some individuals to substitute away from other drugs toward cannabis.
Cannabis acts as a new entrant across many different drug markets simultaneously and is also accessible through recreational use, which does not require healthcare provider oversight. Research suggests that legal medical cannabis decreases the use of prescription drugs, including opioids, in Medicaid and Medicare populations and reduces prescription drug use in patient-level studies.
Recreational cannabis legalization may also lead to reductions in prescription drug use if it brings in new patients with unapproved medical conditions or patients who were unwilling or unable to register as medical patients. A study found that legal recreational cannabis decreased over-the-counter sleep aid and antacid sales. Using stock market valuations, this research examines how cannabis legalization affects profitability for publicly listed pharmaceutical companies and predicts how legalization changes conventional drug spending in legal states.
Could this be a reason why the pharmaceutical companies have been so staunchly opposed to cannabis legalization?
- Vaporized Cannabis Reduces Pain and Anxiety [Study]
A new study published in the journal Biomedicines has found that sustained vaporization of THC-dominant cannabis flowers can improve health-related quality of life measurements in patients suffering from chronic pain and anxiety-related disorders. The study was conducted by a team of British and Spanish investigators and enrolled 451 British patients who had been authorized to consume cannabis flowers for treatment-resistant pain and/or anxiety.
All of the patients in the study had failed to respond to at least two prescription treatment options before obtaining an authorization for medical cannabis and all participants vaporized cannabis flowers for a period of at least three months. The researchers found that cannabis inhalation was associated with sustained (6+ months) improvements in both patient populations and that side effects were minimal.
The researchers reported that the improvements were more significant among those diagnosed with treatment-resistant anxiety. Surveys have shown that patients frequently use cannabis to mitigate symptoms of pain and anxiety.
- Study suggesting cannabis use encourages kind and empathic behavior
Cannabis use is associated with an increase in prosocial behaviors and prioritization of humanitarian behaviors that decreases over time after consumption, according to a study of 146 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
The research, which controlled for factors including sex, age, ethnicity and childhood socio-economic status, also found that compared to those who tested THC-free, cannabis users scored higher on measures of prosocial behaviors, empathy, moral harmlessness and moral fairness, but lower on in group loyalty. Cannabis users also scored higher on aggression among females and agreeableness among males compared to THC-free individuals of the same sex.
Linear associations were found between the recency of cannabis use and scores on measures of prosocial behaviors, empathy, moral harmlessness, moral fairness and agreeableness. The findings suggest that further research should focus on the effects of cannabis consumption among different user groups.
- Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Prevent Infection By Covid-19 Virus
Compounds found in cannabis can prevent infection from the virus that causes COVID-19 by blocking its entry into cells, according to a study published earlier this year by researchers affiliated with Oregon State University.
The researchers found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), can bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection, potentially offering new avenues to prevent and treat the disease. The researchers noted that CBDA and CBGA are readily available and are not controlled substances like THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
In addition, they blocked the action of emerging variants of the virus, including variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and variant B.1.351, first detected in South Africa. Further research is needed, but the study shows that the cannabinoids could be developed into drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19.
- Police Steal Legal Marijuana Money from Armored Cars
Empyreal Logistics, a company that transports money for dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses, has filed a civil suit in the US District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division, claiming that officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stole legally obtained cash from drivers and clients.
Empyreal does not transport cannabis itself, but large amounts of cash for cannabis-related businesses. The legal team for Empyreal accuses the FBI and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department of allegedly scheming to illegally pull over company vehicles and seize money from its clients. During five specific stops, no arrests or tickets were given, but all deposits in the trucks were seized. Three of these stops alone amounted to over $1 million in cash.
The civil suit claims that these actions are being “orchestrated by the Department of Justice and its subordinate law-enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with local law-enforcement officials, including the San Bernardino County Sheriff. Together, these law-enforcement agencies are targeting armored vehicles owned by Empyreal because those vehicles are transporting cash proceeds from state-legal medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries to legitimate financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. Notably, Empyreal never transports any actual cannabis.”
It is believed that the motivation behind these seizures is the federal equitable sharing program, which allows up to 80% of the money taken through the program to be returned to local sheriffs to spend as they wish. However, such forfeitures are not allowed under federal law.
- No significant federal cannabis reform yet again, failure from Republicans and Democrats!
Despite high hopes of meaningful cannabis reform when Democrats took control of the House, Senate and White House in January 2021, the Congressional session will come to an end without a single reform bill having been passed.
The SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to do business with state-licensed cannabis businesses, was not included in the Omnibus spending bill and was nixed from the National Defense Authorization Act.
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is publicly blaming Republicans and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the failure of marijuana reform, advocates are pointing the finger at Schumer himself, as the Majority Leader was responsible for pushing the issue to the brink and forcing a situation where it needed to be passed in the final weeks of the Congressional session.
The Democratic Controlled House passed both comprehensive reform in the MORE Act and the SAFE Banking Act in 2020, but the Senate failed to take action on either bill. There is now hope that the incoming Biden administration will take executive action to address some of the issues that Congress was unable to.
This however, is highly unlikely as Biden hasn’t been all too “friendly” when it comes to his cannabis reforms. Mostly smoke and mirrors.
The Round Up is Complete!
While it’s true, there were many more amazing stories about cannabis this year, I think the 10 I chose truly set the tone. There were some negative studies too, however, that can be left for another list.
If you like me doing “round ups” like this, let me know in the comments and I can incorporate “Top Weekly Roundups” or something similar.
Have a Happy New Years!