This was an incredible year for international cannabis reform, with many governments realizing the futility of prohibition and actually doing something about it. Countries big and small on almost every continent made strides with decriminalization and legalization for both medical and recreational marijuana.
So without further adieu, here are the biggest international cannabis stories of the year.
Mexico Officially Legalizes Medical Marijuana
On June 19, big news came from south of the U.S. border when the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto published a medical marijuana bill which legalized the medicine for his nation.
The legislation ushered in regulations for domestic cultivation and cannabis research after significant support in the Senate with a 98-7 vote in favor of the move.
Catalonia Legalizes Cannabis Cultivation and Consumption
Catalonia is currently going through its own set of major challenges, but earlier in the year, the headlines out of this region were all about pot.
In June, the Catalonian Parliament regulated the cultivation, consumption, and transport of recreational cannabis.
This incredible shift was the culmination of years of effort by marijuana activists in the European nation. One such group, known as La Rosa Verde, collected more than 56,000 signatures in 2015 which prompted the government to seriously consider cannabis reform.
Israel Classifies Medical Marijuana Cultivation as Farming
Israel made incredible leaps forward for cannabis in 2017. The country continued its domination in the medical marijuana research sector and even decriminalized cannabis in May.
However, we’ve chosen the biggest story from September, with the news that the Middle Eastern country officially classified medical marijuana cultivation as farming.
This decision on behalf of the Israeli agricultural ministry positioned the nation to become a commanding player in medical marijuana exports. Prognosticators predicted international medical cannabis sales could amount to over $1.1 billion annually for Israel.
Poland Legalizes Medical Marijuana
The decision to legalize medical marijuana in Poland came fast and steady from the European nation.
In June, the legislation received an overwhelming vote of confidence from Poland’s Lower House of Parliament, with 440-2 in favor. Then, in the first week of July, the Health Care Committee gave their recommendation for legalization to move forward.
By July 21, President Duda signed the legislation into law, making Poland a part of the ongoing wave of momentum for medical cannabis reform.
Switzerland Supermarkets Start Selling CBD Joints
While prohibition counted its last days in Poland, CBD joints started selling in Switzerland supermarkets.
A cigarette manufacturer named Heimat had a great idea to turn their attention to the cannabis market, knowing that in 2011, Switzerland legalized cannabis with up to 1 percent THC. The decision to manufacture CBD joints allowed for this product to be sold in the same location consumers buy bananas or coffee.
Cannabis Oil Sales in Ireland Soar
It took Ireland a very long time to realize the medical benefits of cannabis, and there is still much work to be done. But along the way, the Irish were introduced to CBD oil and it quickly grew in popularity.
Cillin Cleere, the owner of a health food store known as Eats of Eden, who discussed the remarkable popularity of the product, especially in the 60 and over demographic.
Incoming New Zealand Government Wants Medical Pot Within 100 Days
New Zealand was another government that took the cannabis world by surprise after years of stagnation regarding any type of pot reform.
On June 2, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced that doctors would finally be allowed to prescribe CBD as medicine. Less than one week later, Parliament decided to debate a medical cannabis bill. Then, as a new government was elected in October, the legislators wanted to usher in medical cannabis within 100 days.
True to their word, there is now legislation on the table to do exactly that.
Legal Cannabis Introduced by the Government of Canada
Finally, the list of big international marijuana news would not be complete without Canada.
When Justin Trudeau was elected leader of the country Oct. 19, 2015, all eyes were watching to see if he would fulfill his campaign promise to legalize recreational marijuana.
Canada is now in the process of becoming the first G-7 country in world history to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 18 years or older.
As cannabis lovers rejoice over the accomplishments of the last 12 months and reflect on what still needs to be accomplished to end to marijuana prohibition on a global scale, it’s difficult not to be cautiously optimistic about what the new year could bring.
Since 2017 is about to go out in a puff of smoke, let’s hope that 2018 starts in the exact same way.