It was a doozy of a year. One to remember and hopefully soon forget. But for cannabis, it wasn't so bad. Here are CelebStoner's Top 10 stories of 2020.
1. Covid-19 Crisis
What started in March as a few small outbreaks has now spread to every corner of America and the world. Vaccines (thanks Big Pharma) will limit the spread of the coronavirus, but damage is already done and continues at a record pace. Declared "essential" in legal states, most cannabis stores stayed open, offering curbside sales and deliveries. Sharing joints, pipes and vapes became a no-no. Events all went online. It's unclear what 2021 will bring, but it can't be any worse than 2020.
2. Biden Defeated Trump
It was a nail-biter, with Joe Biden roaring from behind to become the nation's 45th president on Election Day. The Trump era will be forever known for its hard swing to the far right and backing by fringe elements, such as the militia that conspired to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Despite Trump's anti-drug fanaticism, marijuana policy improved on his watch, but no thanks to him or the federal government. States continued to do the heavy lifting. The really good news for marijuana: Kamala Harris, who introduced the MORE Act in the Senate (see below), is Vice President elect.
3. More States Legalized It
November 3 was huge. Four more states - Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota - voted to legalize recreational marijuana, upping the total to 15. Two-thirds of Americans now favor this policy and 90% are for medical use. With Election Day in mind, the House pushed through a successful vote on the MORE Act in December. The Act removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending its prohibition. It now needs to pass in the Senate. Just prior to the MORE Act vote, the United Nations recommended marijuana be decriminalized. Also on Election Day, voters in Oregon and Washington, DC passed initiatives that decriminalized hallucinogens like magic mushrooms.
4. Black Lives Mattered
The death of George Floyd in May was a powder keg. Anti-police protests immediately swept the nation. In California and other states, some marijuana stores were looted. A debate over Confederate statues ensued; many were taken down, either forcibly by protestors or by government officials. Some remained, like the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia pictured above. Another day of reckoning about race in America had come. It also spirited a movement in cannabis to make sure states create regulations that are fair for all and allow POC to participate - and not get shut out of - the new legal industry.
5. Wildfires in California and Oregon
It was another devastating wildfire season in Western states. Numerous cannabis businesses, mostly in California and Oregon, went up in smoke and many others suffered damage to grow facilities, both indoors and outdoors, as crops were dusted with ash.
6. Mexico on the Verge of Legalization
Come 2021, Mexico will likely legalize marijuana. The Supreme Court there ordered the legislature to do so in 2019, but several delays pushed the vote until this coming April. With Canada and Mexico reforming their cannabis laws, can the U.S. be far behind?
7. More Celebrity Cannabis Brands
Every week another celeb announced he or she was launching a new brand of pot products, invested in a cannabis company or been named a brand ambassador. This year's crop included Jane Fonda and Magic Johnson (Uncle Bud's); Jerry Garcia (Hand Picked) and Carlos Santana (Mirayo); Gwyneth Paltrow (CANN) and Kristin Bell (Happy Face); Jay-Z (Monagram) and Method Man (Tical); and Brett Favre (Green Eagle).
8. Vape Crisis Subsided
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, vaping was under fire due to additives, thinners, poor hardware and other issues. At least 68 people died from vaping-associated respiratory illness (VAPI) from August 2019 to February 2020. This led to industry changes, state regulations (including bans on flavored oil cartridges) and a general decline in vape pen and cart sales.
9. Growing Belushi
John Belushi's younger brother Jim has become a player in the cannabis business. His farm in Medford, Oregon was the focus of a reality-TV series on Discovery. Dan Aykroyd joined him in several episodes as they geared up to release the new Blues Brothers weed brand. Other stony TV shows or specials of note: High Maintenance (HBO), Cooked with Cannabis (Netflix), Smoke: Marijuana + Black America, South Park (Comedy Central) and The Simpsons (Fox).
10. High Times Made Moves
The legendary marijuana magazine has been on the ropes ever since the company was sold and moved to California in 2017. Efforts to list the stock have repeatedly failed. Now High Times claims to be opening several cannabis stores in the Golden State. We'll see if any other stumbling blocks get in their way in 2021.
Montgomery Ball (a.k.a. Subcool), Dan Baum, Charlotte Figi, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Cliff Robinson, Patricia Ann Steward (a.k.a. The Dutchess of Hemp), Julian Stobbs, Steven Thronson (a.k.a. Saint Dog) and Kevin Zeese