2021 has been a pretty good year for cannabis on both sides of the pond. Progress was made towards legalisation in both Europe and North America. So as the final bongs (ha) of the year chime out, there’s good reason for us all to enjoy a celebratory hit or two as we reflect on some of the most significant legal successes of the past 12 months.
Cannabis Legalisation In The US In 2021
Several states threw off the shackles of prohibition and legalised adult-use cannabis in 2021. Among these is New York, which passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act to regulate sales across the state while also allowing for cultivation at home. Commercial sales have yet to begin as lawmakers continue to finalise the fine print, although the first dispensaries are expected to open their doors next year.
Neighbouring New Jersey also got in on the act by passing a bill of its own that legalised cannabis possession and retail in 2021 but falls short of allowing people to grow their own stash. Staying on the East Coast, Connecticut reformed its legal stance to permit any adult to possess up to 1.5 ounces of weed while out and about and up to five ounces at home.
Down south, New Mexico also legalised cannabis in 2021, passing a bill that lets people grow up to six plants at their private residence, while Virginia pushed through a new law that enables those over the age of 21 to grow up to four plants. Retail sales are also part of the plan in Virginia, although this is not expected to begin until 2024.
Cannabis Legalisation In Europe In 2021
Malta, Luxembourg and Germany have taken massive steps towards legalisation this year, and experts are now predicting a domino effect to ripple across Europe. After decades of frustration, the final months of 2021 saw a sudden scramble to become the first to legalise cannabis, with Malta winning the race by getting its new law over the line before the end of the year.
Luxembourg had looked to be in pole position when it announced its plan to end prohibition back in October. Yet, the champagne remains on ice while we await parliamentary approval in the new year. Germany, meanwhile, has begun the post-Merkel era with a new coalition government that wasted no time in confirming its intention to legalise pot, announcing plans for reform on its very first day in power.
Exactly how the German legalisation model will look is not yet known, however, and we must wait until next year to find out how sales will be regulated and whether or not home cultivation will be allowed.
Medical Cannabis In 2021
Medical cannabis laws were expanded across the US in 2021, with a raft of states allowing greater access to cannabinoid-based treatments. Louisiana and Minnesota, for instance, both altered their respective legislation to permit patients to use whole cannabis flowers rather than just extracts.
Pennsylvania, meanwhile, amended its laws so that chronic pain sufferers no longer have to try other types of medication before being granted access to medical cannabis. At the same time, the famously conservative state of Texas chose to raise the legally acceptable level of THC in medications from 0.5 to one percent.
Obviously, this falls far short of what we would like to see, and it’s clear that cannabis reform was somewhat uneven in 2021, with certain states and countries making great strides while others lag behind. However, despite the reluctance of some of the more backwards-thinking jurisdictions, the snowball is undeniably rolling and looks set to become a monster in 2022.