2013 will go down on record as one of the most significant years in the history of marijuana law reform. Here’s why:
5. Record number of statewide marijuana reform bills enacted into law
2013 was the busiest legislative season ever for marijuana law reform. Lawmakers in dozens of states debated measures to liberalize state cannabis laws, with lawmakers in nearly a dozen states introducing proposals to legalize the plant outright. In all, some 20 marijuana law reform measures were enacted in 2013 in a dozen states. Of particular note, lawmakers in Colorado and Vermont enacted legislation licensing commercial hemp production, Illinois and New Hampshire legalized the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes, Oregon and Nevada okayed regulations allowing for the establishment of medical cannabis distribution facilities, and Oregon and Vermont significantly reduced marijuana possession penalties.
4. Two states enact regulations governing the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults
Following the historic November 2012 votes in Colorado and in Washington legalizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis, regulators in both states spent the spring and summer of 2013 hashing out the details. This past fall, both states began accepting applications from would-be ganjapreneurs. Colorado regulators have already begun granting licenses and a limited number of marijuana retailers will be open for business in the Centennial State as of January 1, 2014. In Washington, regulators are presently reviewing well over thousands of applications and are expected to begin granting licenses within the next few months.
3. Federal government pledges to not interfere with state-licensed retail sales of cannabis
In August, the US Justice Department issued a three-page memorandum signed by Deputy Attorney General James Cole affirming that the agency would allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with efforts to license and regulate the adult marijuana market. Cole publicly stated that the government would take a “trust but verify” approach to the nascent state laws, a position he later reaffirmed before Congress. “We will not … seek to preempt state ballot initiatives,” Cole told members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee in September. “Decriminalization [laws] can co-exist with federal [drug] laws.”
2. Uruguay becomes the first nation in modern history to authorize marijuana production and sales
Lawmakers in the South American nation of Uruguay in late 2013 approved legislation authorizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to all citizens age 18 and older. Under the new law, residents will be able to legally purchase up to 40 grams of cannabis per month from state-licensed stores. (Sales to non-residents will not be permitted.) Price controls will set the cost of cannabis available at to $1 per gram. Households will be permitted to grow up to six cannabis plants each and cooperatives will be able to grow as many as 99 plants. "This [law] is an attempt to bring an end to the illegal drugs trade by identifying the market and bringing it into the light of day," said President Jose Mujica, who championed the historic legislation.
1. American’s support for legalizing pot hits all time high
A record 58 percent of Americans nationwide now believe that marijuana ought to be "made legal" for adult consumption, according to nationwide polling data released in October by Gallup. The percentage is the highest total ever reported by the pollsters, who have tracked American’s attitudes about the plant since 1969. "Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began," Gallup acknowledged. "[I]t is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States."