Cannabis Milestones This Far in 2021

A lot has happened in the global cannabis industry this year, and we're not even a third of the way through 2021. Here are some of the biggest milestones this far.

Late 2020 and the first four months of 2021 have seen some tremendous wins for the cannabis industry, and it's important to chronicle these wins so that we remember just how far the cannabis industry has come in such a short period of time.

As such, we at The Green Fund have decided to do exactly that: Here are some of the cannabis industry's biggest wins for the first few months of 2021.

Huge legalization wave in the U.S.

As 2020 came to a close, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Arizona, and Mississipi all voted to legalize some form of marijuana use on the fifth of November last year. Simultaneously, Joe Biden was inaugurated into the Presidency, causing pot stocks to climb given his campaign statements on federally decriminalizing cannabis.

On top of Biden winning the presidency, Democrats gained a majority in the Senate, giving them control over the House, Senate, and Presidency. With Democrats being more likely to favor pro-pot policies, optimism kicked into overdrive for cannabis enthusiasts that the positive legislative change can continue to snowball.

The U.S. momentum has continued into 2021, with states like New York and Virginia legalizing cannabis over the past few months, and New Mexico looking likely to do the same.

The SAFE Banking act has also had a revival, having just been passed in the House of Representatives. Should the SAFE Banking Act be signed into law by Biden (after being passed in the Senate), there's a chance that cannabis companies will finally have access to financial institutions. This would mean that cannabis companies no longer need to store their money in vaults protected by armed security, lowering costs for dispensaries, in addition to democratizing the industry for entrepreneurs who don't have access to large amounts of capital.

Lastly, a recent Pew poll revealed that just ten percent of Americans reject all forms of cannabis legalization, meaning that public support for cannabis legalization – whether it be medicinal or recreational – is at sky-high levels.

With all of this in mind and support for cannabis legalization at the public and governmental levels continuing to grow, it's safe to say we can continue to expect continued wins in the cannabis industry in the U.S. throughout 2021.

Israel could legalize marijuana

While these aren't necessarily wins (yet), both Israel and Mexico look positioned to legalize cannabis in 2021.

Israel has been discussing cannabis legalization for many months now.

"It's time to make progress and legalize cannabis in Israel," said Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn in November regarding a bill that was introduced into the Israeli Knesset that seeks to legalize recreational-use cannabis for adults aged 21 and over.

The bill was formulated by the inter-ministerial committee for the regulation of Israel's cannabis market and was due to be drafted and arrive shortly on the Knesset floor, which is Israel's legislative body.

According to the proposed bill, Israeli citizens aged 21 and over will be allowed to use cannabis and to purchase it at designated stores. Smoking in public places, however, will be forbidden.

Israel has previously floated the idea of cannabis legalization in the past, so whether this bill becomes actualized remains to be seen, however, even the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has previously expressed his desire to have cannabis made legal, saying that he wishes to "resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization."

However, after failing to agree upon a new budget in 2020, Israel's Knesset was disbanded and is now being re-formed, and means that the cannabis legalization bill has been put on the backburner. It currently remains unclear how much momentum surrounding legalization will remain once the dust settles from Israel's governmental shuffling, but with one of the most pro-pot populations per capita, we are still optimistic about Israel.

Mexico's marijuana legalization

Mexico was due to decide whether the country would legalize cannabis back in late October of 2019 after it was deemed unconstitutional to ban cannabis use and possession. The Supreme Court actually issued five rulings decrying the unconstitutional nature of cannabis prohibition, which argued that cannabis's prohibition was against "the right to the free development of the personality," as the country's constitution states.

However, the October legislation was postponed until April 2020, so that the country could iron out the proposed legislation, which was again pushed back to December 2020 due to COVID-19.

Finally, in December, 4/5ths of the Mexican Senate passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis and a cannabis market, allowing adults to carry 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants.

The bill must now go through the lower house in order to become law, though it looks very likely that Mexico may pass the bill within the next few months.

The legalization of cannabis, if done correctly, would deal a huge blow to the illicit market, and reduce the number of fatalities associated with illegal drug dealing. Some analysts have attributed 55% of Mexico's homicides to the War on Drugs, which is why Mexico's President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador no longer favours a prohibition-styled policy when it comes to cannabis.

"In the matter of narcotic drugs, the prohibitionist strategy is already unsustainable, not only because of the violence generated by its poor results in terms of public health," Obrador stated.

Some criticisms have been raised about the bill and may lead to an extension of the bill's deadline, but marijuana momentum is certainly strong in Mexico.

The rest of 2021

We're just a third of the way through 2021, and things are looking very good for the cannabis industry. It's only a matter of time before the newly-legalized U.S. states like New York and Virginia begin reaping the economic benefits of legalization, serving as further incentive for others to follow suit.

And if Mexico legalizes cannabis, we will see the opening of the biggest legal marijuana market in the world, which may also help to overthrow Mexico's drug cartel. This could make for the most inspiring case study for cannabis legalization in history.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.