By Steven Voser

The year 2015 was full of highlights. Sentences like this are often the opening sentence for the host of the end-of-the-year review, every TV station around the world seems to produce. Despite the complete lack of entertainment of shows like this, the opening sentence is perfectly valid for the international cannabis legalisation movement. Every month felt like getting giant steps closer to a reasonable drug policy, especially in the US, where approximately 25% of the 2.000.000 prisoners have been convicted with drug offenses. Things luckily seem to change.


Recreational cannabis is officially legal in the state of Washington. Although use and possession was already legalised in Novemeber 2014, Congress repeatedly tried to stop the process of implementing these laws. The story finally came to a good ending in January 2015. Now it’s perfectly legal to smoke a bowl or a spliff while checking out the White House. Dispensaries sadly don’t exist at the moment but possession and small-scale growing is not a problem anymore.


The Jamaican Concress passed a law that effectively legalised cannabis, on the exact same day Bob Marley would have turned 70 years old. It’s a huge step for Jamaica, especially for Rastafaris that include “ganja” in their religious practices. Bob Marley would have been proud of the Jamaican Congress and hopefully is jammin’ at a better place now. Jamaica also began to license official growers.


U.S. senators introduced a bill that provides legal protection for cannabis patients, doctors, and businesses. This bill is known as The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act. It might end the contradiction between state and federal cannabis law in the US that is responsible for a lot of legal uncertainty among patients, businesses and investors. There is growing acceptance from both Democrats and Republicans, but this bill is stuck in the Senate at the moment. Patience needed!


Cannabis Oil is now legal in Georgia, in a state that has always been disproportionally tough on everything that has to do with cannabis. Thanks to the Rep. Allen Peak, the possession and use of cannabis oil is now officially legal. Patients in Georgia are now allowed to possess and consume CBD-oil, without being criminalized.


Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla authorized the use for medicinal cannabis on the US territory of Puerto Rico. Getting to this point involved a lengthy debate over several months. This particular order by the governor gives the Puerto Rican Health Department the possibility to authorize the use of medicinal cannabis.


Texas approved a bill that gives patients with severe epilepsy and seizure disorders access to CBD-oil. This is a small step for Texas, but it can make a huge difference for patients and families that have to deal with these diseases. They now have legal access to treatment that seems to work in some cases. Texans are known for their positive attitude towards all things that are big: houses, cars, steaks, guns. What happened over there? How about legalizing BIG BUDS? Think big, not small!


The Medical Cannabis Patient Protection Act drew a lot of protests from the people it meant to protect in Washington. They were protesting because more than 60 dispensaries were closed by the government. Good news is: This Bill 5052 establishes quality control and testing standards for cannabis and cannabis-based products. This is actually consumer friendly. We all can take a deep breath. They approved licenses for 200 new dispensaries in the state of Washington. Supply is safe!


Sometimes, there are news stories that help to restore faith in humanity. This one is from Missouri. The low-level cannabis offender Jeff Mizanskey was released after spending more than 20 years in prison. His son was the one who got him out of there by starting a petition. He gained nearly 400.000 signatures, and started a respectable movement along the way. Governor Jay Nixon granted clemency, and Jeff Mizanskey was able to walk out of prison to hug his baby granddaughter for the first time in his life. All the people involved in this process can be extremely proud of themselves!


There are some people that question the medicinal value of cannabis. September was not a good month for them. The U.S. government’s principal agency for cancer research, the National Cancer Institute, put one really big sentence out there, which was published in the federally funded list of Contemplementary and Alternative Medicine: “Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.”


Oregon decided to do things a little different from what Washington and Colorado did when legalising weed. They simply allowed recreational cannabis users over 21 to access the already existing medical dispensaries. This is way more convenient for both bud lovers, and the state of Oregon. The bureaucratic process of regulating the sale to “recreational” users was simply avoided. Why not simplify things? Good one!


U.S. presidential candidates are doing their thing, putting a word out there. Besides high-class comedian/tragic performances by Donald Trump, there is one guy who kind of speaks out the truth. The wild-haired Democrat Bernie Sanders, senator of Vermont is of the opinion that one of the biggest obstacles for America is the high populations of people being in jail von non-violent drug offenses. He works hard to remove cannabis entirely from the Controlled Substances Act that outlaws its use on a federal level. Good job Mr. Sanders!


Justin Trudeau, the elected prime minister of Canada really knows how to do his job. He immediately rearranged the cabinet that is now gender-inclusive, welcomed refugees from Syria, and told the Minister of Justice to develop a scenario for legalizing the cultivation, distribution, and sale of cannabis to recreational users. There are three words for the behavior of Justin Trudeau: LIKE A BOSS! He kind of did the same thing most of us would do when put in power. Canada is looking at a green future and a lot of European tourists, going on a pilgrimage to visit this beautiful country.

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