Although the pandemic cast a daunting shadow over the world in 2020, the cannabis industry managed to shine through. During this year, we really saw what mattered to us the most, from racial equality to the essential role cannabis plays in many lives.
As we are about to enter 2021, we’ll look at some of the historic moments of the cannabis industry in 2020. The future looks bright for our community, but, as Maya Angelou once said, “if you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” Let’s take some time to reminisce about the uplifting moments of 2020 with our cannabis year in review. Then, we can recharge for the holidays in good spirits before we get back to work.
The Cannabis Industry is Essential
Out of all the historic moments on our cannabis year in review list, this may be the most significant. Many states and local officials deemed the cannabis industry as essential, akin to pharmacies, in March and April. Amidst a global pandemic, the cannabis industry was placed alongside the healthcare industry as necessary for the well-being of people. Not to mention, there was no differentiation between medical and adult-use cannabis companies. All licensed cannabis businesses are allowed to stay open during the pandemic lockdown. Without a doubt, this was a monumental moment for cannabis, diminishing the stigma. And, some might say, it even influenced the other historic cannabis industry moments on this list.
Five New Cannabis Markets
During the 2020 election, the clear winner was cannabis. Five states had cannabis on the ballot: Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. And, it was a sweep–all five states approved their cannabis legalization initiatives. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all approved adult-use cannabis. Also, Mississippi and South Dakota gave the green light for medical cannabis. Not to mention, South Dakota made history by being the first state to legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis at the same time! Currently, one in three Americans live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal. New markets mean more cannabis jobs and more tax revenue.
United Nations Approves WHO Recommendation
The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) accepted a recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV classification. The Schedule IV classification of cannabis happened at the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. With the Schedule IV designation, cannabis was in a category alongside heroin and other opioids. Undoubtedly, it did not deserve that categorization. There was a slim majority vote in favor of the WHO recommendation: 27 votes for, 25 votes against, and one abstention. Although the passage of Recommendation 5.1 is somewhat symbolic, it still has plenty of potential in helping to boost medical cannabis legalization efforts. Additionally, it could help in influencing further scientific research for the cannabis plant and its use in medicine, as the CND acknowledges the medical benefits of the drug.
Cannabis Jobs Increase in 2020
The cannabis industry continued to create job opportunities even with the global pandemic looming over the nation in 2020. According to the Marijuana Business Factbook, the U.S. is predicted to have 240,000-295,000 people working in the cannabis industry by the end of 2020. Also, the anticipated uptick in cannabis employment would be close to a 50% increase compared to 2019 levels (165,000-210,000). And with five new markets, there will be more cannabis jobs created in the industry in 2021 and beyond. Cannabis is an emerging retail market and what many believe to be the next retail frontier.
Longest Serving U.S. Cannabis Inmate Released
Richard DeLisi began serving his 90-year prison sentence for cannabis trafficking on December 5, 1989. At that time, he was 40 years old. DeLisi spent 31 one birthdays behind bars. According to the Last Prisoner Project, DeLisi is America’s longest-serving non-violent cannabis prisoner. His early release in December 2020 is thanks to the Last Prisoner Project and a pro bono with attorneys Chiara Juster, Elizabeth Buchanan, and Michael Minardi, who supplemented his filed clemency application early this year and continued to advocate for his release to local officials.
During his time in prison, DeLisi’s son Stephen, wife, and parents passed away. However, his remaining friends and family were eager to celebrate his early release. There are still tens of thousands of non-violent cannabis prisoners behind bars. You can help them get out of prison and reintegrate into society by supporting the Last Prisoner Project (LPP). We’d love to see cannabis restorative justice again on our list with even bigger wins for the cannabis year in review for 2021. So, please help us support LPP in any way you can.
House Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis at Federal Level
In 2020, the cannabis industry earned a big win on the political stage. The House of Representatives approved legislation to decriminalize cannabis. There were 222 Democrats, five Republicans, and libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, who voted in support of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. On the other hand, 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against it. This marks the first time a chamber of Congress voted on federal cannabis decriminalization. Although it will face tough opposition in the Senate, it’s a historic moment and significant step toward full legalization.
Looking Forward to 2021
The future looks bright for the cannabis industry. Our cannabis executive search and staffing team is looking forward to more historic moments for the cannabis industry in 2021. We’ll be here to provide cannabis job opportunities and cannabis staffing solutions to help the industry continue to grow. We’re hoping for even bigger and better moments to put on our cannabis year in review list for 2021!