2019 in Review: The Achievements and Setbacks of Legal Medical Cannabis

As we approach the end of January 2020 and think about the changes that the New Year will bring in terms of legal medical marijuana around the world, it is useful to take a step back and review the main events of the cannabis industry during 2019.

Several territories in the United States and around the world made significant progress regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis, but the medical marijuana industry was also subject to major changes. From an improvement in workplace protections for users of medical cannabis to the lifting of long-standing bans, it seems like most of the western world is following a clear path towards a legal medical marijuana market.

The Cannabis Revolution of the Southern States

While the northeastern part of the United States and most areas of California have been the spearheads of a project for nation-wide legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, states such as Arizona, Nebraska, and Idaho have defended a more conservative approach and implemented a plethora of legal obstacles for the marijuana industry.

However, although these parts of the country are still behind the most progressive areas, 2019 was a year of successes for the local cannabis advocacy groups. The authorities in Arizona have vowed to hold a new vote on the Smart and Safe proposal, which promotes the legalization of adult-use marijuana and a comprehensive plan to direct the sales revenue towards infrastructure projects, higher education and health services.

The New Workplace Protections for Marijuana Users

Despite some states have legalized marijuana products for medical purposes, users were still subject to discrimination in workplaces where drug tests are carried out. There is no way for an employer to know if someone is taking THC for recreational or medical purposes from a test, so despite the substance is legal, its presence in an employee’s bloodstream could lead to serious consequences.

In New York and New Jersey, 2019 was a year of major changes regarding the marijuana-related policies for both employers and employees. The latter state now prohibits employers from terminating or even disciplining employees because of their status as registered medical marijuana users.

Although drug tests might still be carried out and the consumption of cannabis can be banned in the workplace, employees who test positive must be allowed to present evidence of their status.

More European Countries are Joining the Legalization Movement

While the Netherlands has always been one of the major beacons for almost every marijuana legalization project around the world, the European continent has been historically divided when it comes to both medical and recreational cannabis.

In 2019, the National Healthcare System of the United Kingdom negotiated its first bulk discount of cannabis-based medicines for a broadband of patients suffering from epilepsy and other related conditions. The medical efficacy of THC is being accepted by authorities in Portugal, Greece, Spain, and Germany, and even Poland is now considering pilot projects for the progressive legalization of the substance.



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