The Cannabis Industry in 2016: A Recap
Although the 2016 year was by all accounts, a very mixed bag, it was mostly a good year for the cannabis industry. California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine all voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, and Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana all voted to legalize medical marijuana. Out of all the states where such initiatives were on the ballot, only in Arizona did it fail.
More good cannabis-related news? The number of marijuana-related arrests have dropped to their lowest numbers in twenty years. According to the FBI, there were 574,641 arrests in 2015 for possession of marijuana, which while still too high a number, is the lowest it's been since 1996. It seems as cannabis use becomes increasingly normalized, state governments are lessening the punishment for possession, a move that bodes well for the industry. In 2013, American taxpayers spent a total of $3.6 billion on the enforcement of marijuana possession laws (according to the American Civil Liberties Union). In these uncertain times, it's uplifting to see that the general tide does seem to be turning towards doing away with antiquated enforcement laws, and embracing cannabis as a fixture that isn't going away anytime soon.
As an increasing number of states choose to legalize cannabis, more comprehensive data has become available regarding the impact of legalization, specifically among teens. Recent results from the annual survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health show that contrary to many predictions, easier access to marijuana hasn't impacted usage among teens. Each year surveys have shown a long-term decline in marijuana usage among teens, a fact in opposition to those who fear that legalization means higher rates of usage.
As stated by Mason Tvert of Marijuana Policy Project, "the best way to prevent teen marijuana use is education and regulation, not arresting responsible consumers and depriving sick people of medical marijuana. It is time to adopt marijuana policies that are based on evidence instead of fear."
Another good sign came in 2016 when we saw several mainstream companies either get involved in the industry or express an interest in doing so in the future. Microsoft funded cannabis firm KIND Financial, Google reportedly expressed interest in becoming involved in some capacity, and Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn announced he'd be investing $500 million in the cannabis industry. While large companies slowly coming onboard to show their support for the legalization of marijuana helps to decrease the stigma surrounding cannabis use, it also creates a possible environment for them to edge out smaller companies and entrepreneurs. This possibility is one of the main reasons why Humboldt Brand Cannabis Company was created. By coming together with other growers, manufacturers, and dispensaries, we aim to provide a strong and united brand from which we can continue to be a leading voice in the industry.