As we approach the end of 2022, we are looking at the top eight national cannabis stories of the year.
Here are some of the most important cannabis stories of 2022 that will impact the cannabis industry for years to come:
Joe Biden’s Statement on Cannabis.
On October 6, 2022 President Biden announced that he would pardon all Federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, urging governors to do the same for state offenses, and instructing his administration to initiate proceedings to reschedule or deschedule cannabis.
The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services have the power under federal law to move marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) on their own but the December Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act may force their hand quicker than expected. Biden’s announcement could very well be the beginning of the end of Federal cannabis prohibition.
You can read more about this development here:
Major Cannabis Announcement from President Biden
The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act is Signed into Law.
In December, President Joseph Biden signed the first-ever standalone cannabis bill into law. This new law will allow US researchers to study cannabis and its effects without cutting through quite as much red tape. The research conducted under this new law not only opens up what research facilities can conduct studies but if results show medicinal benefits (which we expect them to based on the research from other countries years ahead of the USA in cannabis research), this will be used to reevaluate marijuana’s status as a Schedule I substance.
For more information check out this blog post, The New Marijuana Research Bill is Another Sign that Federal Prohibition is Ending.
In January a letter from the DEA stated that the agency does not consider cannabis seeds with less than 0.3% THC to be cannabis. Instead, the DEA considers such seeds to be hemp, which is federally legal under the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), and should be tightly regulated but not as a controlled substance like cannabis.
Read more here: DEA Declares Marijuana Seeds Below THC Limit are Legal Hemp.
On May 19, 2022, the United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (9th Circuit), a federal court, ruled that the plain and unambiguous text of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill) compelled the court to rule that e-cigarette and vaping products containing delta-8 THC are Federally legal and are to be considered Hemp.
Full coverage of this decision is available here: Federal court Rules Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC is Lawful.
Cannabis Reform Progresses.
As part of the US midterm elections, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota all had recreational cannabis proposals on their ballots. Voters in Maryland and Missouri said yes; voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota said no. It was a bittersweet moment for cannabis advocates, who had to contend with the unwelcome ratio of two wins and three losses, but it was progress nonetheless.
During the same elections, five Texan cities voted to decriminalize cannabis possession.
For a detailed list of these developments from election night, check out NORML’s 2022 Legislative Report.
Minnesota’s legalizing’ state legislators
In their zeal to regulate products containing hemp-derived cannabis compounds, Minnesota state legislators passed a law that inadvertently legalized edibles containing up to 5 mg of THC per serving. The law took effect on July 1.
The Star Tribune reported that Republican state Sen. Jim Abeler says he didn’t realize the new law would legalize THC edibles. After an amendment passed unanimously during a legislative session in May, Abeler said: “That doesn’t legalize marijuana — we just didn’t do that, did we?”
Abeler wanted to repeal the new law, but Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and the Democrat-controlled House are in favor of cannabis legalization—which is expected to happen in 2023. So the law remained in effect.
2022’s most audacious Senate candidate: Gary Chambers
Gary Chambers, the Democratic senate candidate from Louisiana, who cut the year’s buzziest political ad.
While sitting in a New Orleans field, Chambers lit up a king-sized blunt to demonstrate his dedication to weed reform. The unique image set the Internet ablaze, making it all the way to late-night television in less than 24 hours.
His video drove home the fact that a cannabis-related arrest happens every 37 seconds. “Most of the people police arrest aren’t dealers,” Chambers said, “but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me.”
Chambers lost his general election race to John Kennedy, but he won the hearts of justice champions worldwide showing the focus of these younger candidates is reform.
The US Court of International Trade Allows for Cannabis Paraphernalia Importation.
In the case Eteros Technologies USA vs. United States, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) last month ruled that cannabis paraphernalia could be imported into the country, breaking with the rule outlined under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Above the Law reports. Eteros Technologies was not trying to import bongs, which has been happening for years, but rather cannabis trimming equipment.
A more detailed analysis of the case and what it means for companies who import cannabis-related goods is available here: Cannabis Paraphernalia: Custom and Border Protection Loses Case
The rise and fall of Cannabis prices.
Back in 2020, the cannabis industry experienced a boom in sales during the pandemic lockdowns. In the days before stay-at-home orders came into effect, consumers across North America lined up outside their local dispensaries, looking to stock up for the months ahead.
Two years later, it seems the pandemic windfall is at an end. States have seen their cannabis sales swing back to lower, almost pre-coronavirus levels. Oregon, for instance, experienced a 20% decline in monthly sales over the past year, according to the cannabis data company Headset.
Despite this sales squeeze, on the whole, consumer spending is still rising in several states. Looking at Oregon again, sales are actually up 25% from where they were three years ago (just before the pandemic began). So, although the recent economic dips are significant, say Headset, the positive growth in long-term trends is an indication of a market correction.
However, the price of marijuana is dipping in established states. In Colorado, for instance, the average price of flower fell by 46% from July ’21 to ’22, from $1,316 per pound to $709 per pound. While this is good for customers, this price plunge isn’t great news for cannabis businesses. Much of the lost value can be attributed to a bountiful harvest and a glut of crop. Faced with an abundance of cheap cannabis to offload, many farmers are reportedly considering scaling back their production next year.
Which do you think is the top cannabis story of 2022 that will impact cannabis’s future in the United States?
Jessica is the Legal & Equity Advisor for GreenLight Business Solutions, LLC. As a licensed attorney in Massachusetts, her areas of expertise are vast and include corporate compliance, contract negotiations, business formation, intellectual property, strategic business planning, real estate, branding and marketing, corporate image management, zoning codes, municipal laws, federal marijuana policy, and cannabis legislation.