The year 2016 “may very well go down as the greatest year ever for marijuana and the cannabis industry,” according to a year-in-review article recently published by The Motley Fool.
The past 12 months have been historic for the marijuana industry, The Motley Fool reports, as marijuana legalization expanded to new states and nationwide support for ending prohibition is now at an all-time high. The federal court granted law-abiding marijuana users protection from persecution from the federal government, and medical research breakthroughs have further advanced cannabis’ recognition as a therapeutically beneficial substance.
Additionally, with the legal marijuana industry projected to reach $21.8 billion in total annual sales by 2020, leading cannabis companies like Medical Marijuana, Inc. experienced a year of exciting growth and momentum that show great promise for the coming year.
Expansion of Marijuana Legalization
With support for marijuana legalization now at the highest that it’s ever been, it shouldn’t be surprising that 2016 was a remarkable year for legalization efforts. The legislatures of Ohio and Pennsylvania passed comprehensive medical marijuana programs earlier in the year. Then in November, voters in seven states approved recreational and medical marijuana ballot initiatives. California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota approved medical cannabis measures, to create eight new markets that are estimated to be worth $7 billion to $8 billion in annual retail sales.
The number of medical marijuana states doubled from four to eight, while the nation’s total of medical marijuana states climbed from 23 to 28 to cap off a historic year for legalization expansion.
Marijuana Users and Suppliers Granted Protection
In August, the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Justice Department is prohibited from using appropriated money to prevent states from implementing recreational or medical marijuana laws and from prosecuting individuals who provide cannabis to patients. The United States v. McIntosh decision protects, at least for now, marijuana users and suppliers who follow state laws from criminal prosecution by the federal government.
Groundbreaking Findings About Marijuana
While research into marijuana and its effects are still difficult to come by because of federal restrictions, this year several key studies were published indicating cannabis as safe and therapeutically beneficial. Researchers found cannabis to be beneficial for treating symptoms of mental health, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A study published just this month in Cancer Medicine found marijuana use to be linked to a lower risk of heart failure, cardiac disease, and in-hospital mortality. In June, a team of 10 researchers published a 20-year study that showed marijuana use only had a statistically significant adverse impact on periodontal disease.
Studies also showed that marijuana legalization effectively reduces opioid intake and traffic fatalities, and doesn’t cause an increase in marijuana use by adolescents.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. Capitalizing on Market Growth
With many companies in the space, Medical Marijuana, Inc., the first-ever publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, continued to stand out as a market leader and capitalize on the momentum caused by changes in the market throughout 2016. Most notably, Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s subsidiary and predominate consumer brand, HempMeds®, saw a year of massive expansion, increasing its wholesale business by more than 50% and receiving the first-ever import permits for Mexico and Paraguay for its Real Scientific Hemp OilTM (RSHOTM) CBD hemp oil products. Major investment company AXIM® Biotechnologies, Inc., in which The Company owns 40% common shares, announced dermatological clinical research on cannabigerol (CBG) for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema that was covered by Forbes, received the necessary funding to continue its clinical research program on its proprietary method of CBD chewing gum, and announced it was assigned the patent on its proprietary method of THC extraction that rendered the purest form of THC known in the field.
A Couple Bumps in the Road
Cannabis did hit a couple of bumps throughout the year. In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it would not be rescheduling marijuana, opting to leave it classified as a Schedule I substance. The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president and his anti-marijuana attorney general choice has caused looming concern and anxiety for marijuana supporters nationwide.
Read the entire Motley Fool report, “Year in Review: Marijuana’s Green 2016”, here.