This was an incredible year for international cannabis reform, with many governments realizing the futility of prohibition and actually doing something about it. Countries big and small on almost every continent made strides with decriminalization and legalization for both medical and recreational marijuana.
Marijuana.com was there to cover it all in 2017. So without further adieu, here are the biggest international cannabis stories of the year.
On June 19, big news came from south of the U.S. border when the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto published a medical marijuana bill which legalized the medicine for his nation.
The legislation ushered in regulations for domestic cultivation and cannabis research after significant support in the Senate with a 98-7 vote in favor of the move.
Catalonia is currently going through its own set of major challenges, but earlier in the year, the headlines out of this region were all about pot.
In June, the Catalonian Parliament regulated the cultivation, consumption, and transport of recreational cannabis.
This incredible shift was the culmination of years of effort by marijuana activists in the European nation. One such group, known as La Rosa Verde, collected more than 56,000 signatures in 2015 which prompted the government to seriously consider cannabis reform.
However, we’ve chosen the biggest story from September, with the news that the Middle Eastern country officially classified medical marijuana cultivation as farming.
This decision on behalf of the Israeli agricultural ministry positioned the nation to become a commanding player in medical marijuana exports. Prognosticators predicted international medical cannabis sales could amount to over $1.1 billion annually for Israel.
The decision to legalize medical marijuana in Poland came fast and steady from the European nation.
In June, the legislation received an overwhelming vote of confidence from Poland’s Lower House of Parliament, with 440-2 in favor. Then, in the first week of July, the Health Care Committee gave their recommendation for legalization to move forward.
By July 21, President Duda signed the legislation into law, making Poland a part of the ongoing wave of momentum for medical cannabis reform.
While prohibition counted its last days in Poland, CBD joints started selling in Switzerland supermarkets.
A cigarette manufacturer named Heimat had a great idea to turn their attention to the cannabis market, knowing that in 2011, Switzerland legalized cannabis with up to 1 percent THC. The decision to manufacture CBD joints allowed for this product to be sold in the same location consumers buy bananas or coffee.
It took Ireland a very long time to realize the medical benefits of cannabis, and there is still much work to be done. But along the way, the Irish were introduced to CBD oil and it quickly grew in popularity.
New Zealand was another government that took the cannabis world by surprise after years of stagnation regarding any type of pot reform.
On June 2, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced that doctors would finally be allowed to prescribe CBD as medicine. Less than one week later, Parliament decided to debate a medical cannabis bill. Then, as a new government was elected in October, Marijuana.com discovered the legislators wanted to usher in medical cannabis within 100 days.
True to their word, there is now legislation on the table to do exactly that.
Finally, the list of big international marijuana news would not be complete without Canada.
When Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the country Oct. 19, 2015, all eyes were watching to see if he would fulfill his campaign promise to legalize recreational marijuana.
Canada is now in the process of becoming the first G-7 country in world history to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 18 years or older.
As cannabis lovers rejoice over the accomplishments of the last 12 months and reflect on what still needs to be accomplished to end to marijuana prohibition on a global scale, it’s difficult not to be cautiously optimistic about what the new year could bring.
Since 2017 is about to go out in a puff of smoke, let’s hope that 2018 starts in the exact same way.