2018 was a big year for the growing cannabis industry around the world, particularly in California. There are still several hurdles for marijuana businesses such as banking limitations and 280E tax burdens, but there are many key wins as well, as evident from top cannabis news in 2018.
As we hope for a new thriving year for the industry, let’s take a look back at the top five cannabis news that happened in 2018.
1) California opens cannabis recreational market
California welcomed the year 2018 with the beginning of sale of recreational marijuana. Since January 1, adults aged 21 years old and above could buy an ounce of marijuana for non-medical use. They could also grow up to six cannabis plants at home even without a doctor’s letter.
Take note, though, that adults can only still buy marijuana at licensed cannabis dispensaries. But the good news is, based on data from California's Bureau of Cannabis Control, there are currently at least 400 licensed retailers of adult-use marijuana in the state.
2) Canada legalizes recreational marijuana
In June 2018, Canada became the second country after Uruguay to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis nationwide. The morning after the day of its legalization, cannabis stocks in Canada surged by 3.34% up to 6.81%, signaling a bright hope for the cannabis industry.
The age and regulations of cannabis consumption vary per province. For instance, Alberta sells cannabis in privately-run stores for adults aged 18 and above. Quebec, meanwhile, raised the age limit to 21. Other provinces opted for a 19-year old age limit.
3) More countries and states legalize cannabis
Aside from Canada and California, more countries and states legalized cannabis in 2018.
In November, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. This is after voters passed Proposition 1 which allows the possession and sale of cannabis for adults aged 21 and above. Voters in Missouri and Utah also approved the initiatives permitting the use of medical cannabis.
Also in November, South Korea passed a bill legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, making it the first East Asian nation to make such move. The country revised its policy on the drug to allow the import of cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis compound that has health benefits.
The United Kingdom also eased its policies and allowed the prescription of cannabis-based products. However, only consultant medical practitioners can prescribe one. They can also recommend the use of cannabis-based products in a small number of cases only.
4) Major investments in the cannabis industry
Besides cannabis legalization in several states and countries, 2018 was also a big year for cannabis industry investments. In August, Constellation Brands invested $4 billion in Canada’s largest marijuana producer, Canopy Growth. After the transaction, Canopy Growth’s shares surged to 30.4%.
5) Farm Bill to legalize hemp at the federal level
Some say federally legal cannabis is closer than we think with the approval of the Agriculture Improvement Act or the “2018 Farm Bill”. United States President Donald Trump issued a remark that Farm Bill “...doubles the amount of farmers that they can borrow to expand and improve their farms.” A video of Trump signing this bill may be viewed below.
You may ask, what’s the importance of Farm Bill to the cannabis industry? It is highly relevant to the industry since this bill removes industrial hemp from the list of Schedule 1 drugs, and allows farmers to grow them legally. Hemp is any part of the cannabis plant that has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC and CBD are two primary active ingredients of cannabis. CBD has health benefits while THC induces psychoactive effects. Hemp does not have the psychoactive effects of marijuana due to the small amount of THC. However, the Food and Drug Administration used to consider all CBD as a Schedule 1 drug. Thus, farmers who grow hemp are treated the same way as illegal pot growers.
With the approval of Farm Bill 2018, hemp farmers may be allowed to buy crop insurance for their cannabis fields. It also expected that the public perception of cannabis will slowly shift—from harmful drug to medically helpful plant.
Given these milestones, there’s no denying that the industry will continue to grow in 2019, and that more opportunities will open for cannabis businesses.
Are you ready to grow your cannabis business in 2019? Make sure that you are fully equipped. Work with cannabis accounting and compliance experts to make sure that you are on the right track to success.
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