2018 started out very different than it had ended in reference to marijuana. A few weeks into January 2018, the Trump administration tried to kill the considerable buzz created Jan. 1 when California’s broad marijuana legalization law took effect, creating the largest legal U.S. cannabis marketplace.
Then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy shielding state-licensed medical marijuana operators from federal drug prosecutions.
The move sent a chill through the nascent legal industry. But ultimately it had little impact because federal prosecutors around the country showed little interest in going after legal operators.
Sessions, a staunch marijuana opponent, later lost his job and the cannabis industry thrived in a hugely significant year for the legal pot movement, in the United States and beyond.
Here are some highlights:
- Jan. 1: California’s law takes effect, allowing people 21 and older to use marijuana.
- Jan. 4: Sessions rescinds the policy.
- Jan. 22: Vermont’s Legislature legalizes recreational marijuana. It’s the first time a state legislature, rather than voters, approved such a law.
- June 25: U.S. health regulators approve the first prescription drug made from marijuana. The medication, Epidiolex, is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in young children.
- June 28: Oklahoma becomes the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana use.
- July 19: A Canadian company, Tilray Inc., is the first marijuana business to complete an initial public offering on a major U.S. stock exchange, raising $153 million as it began trading on the Nasdaq exchange.
- Aug. 15: Constellation Brands Inc., the parent company of Corona beer and other alcoholic drinks, makes a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corp., a major Canadian pot producer.
- Oct. 17: Canada legalizes marijuana use for people 19 or older in most provinces. It’s the second country after Uruguay to legalize marijuana, and its First-World nation status adds greater credibility to the global marijuana marketplace.
- Oct. 31: Mexico’s Supreme Court rules individuals can use marijuana under their right to decide their own recreational activities. The decision puts the country a major step closer to broad legalization.
- Nov. 7: Voters make Michigan the first Midwestern state and 10th overall to legalize recreational marijuana use. Missouri and Utah approve medicinal marijuana.
- Dec. 7: U.S. cigarette maker Altria invests $2.4 billion in Canada marijuana company Cronos Group.
- Dec. 10: New Zealand passes a law making medical marijuana widely available. A nationwide referendum on recreational pot is planned within two years.
- Dec. 20: President Donald Trump signs into law a farm bill that removes hemp, the cannabis plant cousin to marijuana, from the list of federally controlled substances.
- Dec. 25 — Thailand’s legislature amends the country’s drug law to allow the licensed medical use of marijuana.
- Dec. 25 — Israel’s Parliament approves a law to permit exports of medical marijuana.
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