Jan 012016
 January 1, 2016

2016 marijuana2016 Will Be A Very Big Year For Cannabis

Since the end of the 2012 election, all eyes from the marijuana reform movement and industry have been set on 2016. Campaigns held off on 2014 efforts to ‘wait for 2016.’ People in the industry anticipating big victories on Election Day 2016 have said the words ‘imagine what it will be like by the end of 2016’ so many times I’d imagine they have lost track. And here we are. January 1, 2016. This is the first day of the biggest year in the history of marijuana in America, and beyond.

While I was hanging out with people during the holidays, we discussed what 2016 may have in store for the marijuana world. We all agreed that it will no doubt be a historic year, but we had varying opinions on what may happen, what is likely to happen, and what is probably a bit too bold for right now. But with that last one, we all still agreed that 2016 has the potential to see just about anything happen, so while something may seem far fetched at the beginning of 2016, by the end of 2016 it could very well have become a reality. Below are some of the things that I’ll be looking out for over the course of the next year:

Marijuana Initiatives – 2016 is a Presidential Election year, and there are numerous efforts underway to get enough signatures to put recreational marijuana and medical marijuana legalization on state ballots. California, Arizona, Nevada (already on the ballot!), Massachusetts, Maine, and Michigan are all likely to vote on recreational marijuana on Election Day 2016. Florida and Missouri are likely to vote on medical marijuana in November, with other states maybe joining them. With some hard work and luck, we could see the number of legal rec states climb to double digits, and see the number of medical states outnumber the amount of non-medical states in America (when you don’t include CBD-only states). This will literally be the biggest election cycle in the history of marijuana politics in America.

Legislative Marijuana Reform – I think in 2016 we will see marijuana legalization via a legislative action. Vermont and Rhode Island seem to be the most likely candidates, but there is an effort in New Mexico already via a prefiled legalization bill, and I’d expect quite a few legislatures to at least take a look at the idea, if not take the leap in an attempt to get out ahead of what seems like inevitable public policy reform. I think we will see at least one state legislature legalize medical marijuana, and not just a CBD-only version of medical marijuana legalization. Pennsylvania seems like the most likely candidate, but we will see what the year holds.

Banking Reform – I obviously can’t say for sure, but I think 2016 we may see true marijuana banking reform occur. The industry is just too huge to let it continue to be an all cash industry. Banking should be allowed for the industry because it’s the right thing to do, but I think the real reason reform will come about is because the banks will lead on it this year. The business need justification isn’t the route I’d like to see for reform, but if it’s what gets banking reform to occur, I can live with that. You have to assume that banks want it to happen. Imagine if things were not so widely known about the marijuana industry, and the banking industry was approached with the question of ‘We can create an industry almost overnight that will need to deposit and withdraw billions of dollars in transactions through your banks annually, are you OK with that? Keep in mind the industry is completely legal at the local level, and the industry is frothing at the mouth to get going right away.’ I think the resounding answer from the banking industry would be ’Yes!’ Banking reform is overdue, and I think 2016 will hopefully be the year to get it achieved in a meaningful, comprehensive, lasting way.

Tax Reform – 280e is about the least popular, least sexy topic in the marijuana world, but it’s also one of the most important. It’s extremely hard to get people to realize that until after they have done taxes and realize the hard way why it’s so important. A lot of the marijuana industry doesn’t get to write off nearly as many legitimate business expenses as other industries because marijuana is illegal at the federal level. If you are not familiar with 280e, you should be, especially if you are in the industry or want to be in the industry. The marijuana industry needs to be able to play on a level playing field that other industries get to experience, and without 280e reform, the industry will never reach its full potential.

Decriminalization Spreads At The Local Level – More and more municipalities decriminalized marijuana in 2015, and I expect that trend to continue in 2016. Pittsburgh just voted to decriminalize marijuana, Texas’ largest county has a law that takes effect today that decriminalizes marijuana under certain circumstances, and Philadelphia recently released numbers that it has saved over 1 million dollars after decriminalizing marijuana in 2014. More and more local governments will take notice of the savings and follow suit in 2016, which will hopefully contribute to the momentum of statewide reforms.

Opponents Will Start Pushing ‘Schedule 2’ – I recently read an article in which Kevin Sabet highlighted the anti-marijuana movement’s ‘victories’ from 2015. Something that Kevin Sabet has been touting is that the federal government is going to make it easier to research marijuana in very limited circumstances. This is a rhetorical tactic that tries to imply that the anti-marijuana movement isn’t really anti-marijuana because after all they support reform, just their version of it. They will point to their willingness to ‘allow more research’ as an example of how they are willing to meet the reform movement ‘part way.’ It’s all just smoke, but they know that it will get some play with the general public. It’s a way that they can soften their stance without really doing anything to truly soften their stance. I think that as marijuana opponents realize that moving marijuana to Schedule 2 doesn’t really do much (and that de-scheduling marijuana is what reformers really want), they will latch onto it as a way of demonstrating a kind of ‘false compromise.’ Politics is a game of using words to persuade others, and prohibitionists know that. That’s why Kevin Sabet always asks the question of ‘why isn’t decriminalization enough’ even though he absolutely will not directly express support for decriminalization.

Big Push To De-Schedule Marijuana – This last year Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would de-schedule marijuana. The bill wouldn’t lower marijuana from Schedule 1 to something else – it would de-schedule marijuana altogether. Such a move would remove marijuana prohibition at the federal level. That’s not to say that marijuana would be legalized at the federal level. Rather, it would remove the federal barrier and allow states to decide the issue on their own. I think it is too bold to say that such a bill would pass in 2016, but I think it will get a much more high profile, high effort push than ever before.

Oregon’s Marijuana Culture Will Be ‘Discovered’ – This is admittedly a lot of home state pride talking, but I honestly think that Oregon has the best marijuana in America. It’s also some of, if not the, cheapest in America (brick weed doesn’t count!). Marijuana flower is available in Oregon to all adults over 21 right now, and soon edibles and other consumables will be available for purchase too. That combined with Oregon’s scenic beauty and seemingly never ending recreation opportunities will make Oregon a top destination on any marijuana consumer’s travel list from around the world starting in 2016, if it isn’t already.

Bad Apples And Actors Will Be Exposed – For the most part the growing marijuana industry has been very positive. Numbers are good, everything is growing, and there are tons of success stories out there. The marijuana industry is a sexy thing right now, which is why so many people are clamoring to get into the industry, and those that are already in the industry are jockeying for position. I think in 2016 we will see some more of the ugly side of things become known. A vast majority of people in the marijuana world have good hearts, and are honest, hard working people. But there are also some bad actors and bad apples. Because the industry was in the shadows for so long, those type of people have been able to operate in the shadows undetected. But as the industry grows, and marijuana continues to go mainstream, those bad actors will get exposed and banished from the industry. It will be tough to see the industry go through those growing pains, but those types of people should have no place in this new industry. The marijuana industry has the chance to be different than other industries, and to operate with a level of equality and integrity that other industries have fallen short of. A responsible industry should want to remove the bad apples, and in no way should support them being a part of the next great American industry.

Big Push For Small Businesses – The marijuana industry has been a cottage industry for many decades. It wasn’t until recently that corporate America wanted in on the action. I know that there are a lot of people that want the marijuana industry to stay as much of a cottage industry as possible, and embrace the ‘locally owned and operated’ type businesses. I am certainly one of those people. I’m not necessarily against large companies in the marijuana industry, but I try to give my dollars to small businesses whether they are marijuana related or not. I think that the marijuana consumer base will have that mentality more often than consumers of other products because of the buying habits of the past. People have always liked to know where their marijuana comes from, way before it was fashionable for food and other things.

More Corporate Infusion – I once wrote an article titled, ‘Big Marijuana Doesn’t Scare Me, Big Marijuana Done The Wrong Way Scares Me.’ That’s honestly how I feel. Any rational person will recognize that the marijuana reform movement has gained increased acceptance among swing voters, politicians, and funders because of the growth of the marijuana industry. One of my political science professors in college would always say, ‘Do you want people to vote for something? Make it profitable.’ It’s true. It’s not how I would like things to work, but it’s how politics works nonetheless. With all of that being said, too much corporate infiltration is obviously a bad thing because with corporate weed comes the potential for corporate greed. There will be more celebrity marijuana strains introduced in 2016, along with other types of endorsements. More money will be infused into the marijuana industry than ever before in 2016.

More Politicians And Media Outlets Will Get On The Right Side Of History - Every year more and more politicians and mainstream media outlets change their tune on marijuana. Sometimes it’s subtle, and is more of a ‘softening of stance’ that a full flip flop. Other times politicians and media outlets aren’t so subtle, and just abruptly change their tune overnight. I don’t really like marijuana opponents, but I have to allow them to get on the right side of history if they choose to do so. They should be commended when it’s sincere, and called out when it’s not. People and entities should believe in reform because it’s the right thing to do, and not just because supporting reform gets votes, donations, and eyeballs.

More International Victories - Uruguay is supposed to start selling recreational marijuana in 2016. Canada is poised to legalize marijuana in 2016. There will no doubt be other nations that step up and reform their marijuana laws in one way or another. 2016 isn’t just a big year for marijuana in the United States, it’s a big year across the globe.

Reform For Veterans – Medical marijuana helps veterans. That is an undeniable fact. There are too many veterans that will testify to how medical marijuana helped/saved their lives, and for a vast variety of reasons. Not only should there not be barriers to medical marijuana for veterans, I think that medical marijuana should actually be encouraged because of how effective it is at helping veterans who suffer from a lot of different things. Veterans fought for our country, the least our country should do is allow them to use safe, effective medicine. I think 2016 will hopefully be the year when there is comprehensive reform on this issue.

***

Obviously this isn’t an end all, be all list. If there are things that you think I missed, that I could have spoke more about, or that I’m just flat wrong about, by all means post something in the comments. As I’ve always said, I’d rather be wrong and facilitate discussion than be right and have no one ever talk about it. What do you think will happen in the world of marijuana in 2016? I look forward to reading your comments.

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
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  • Bongstar420

    Is the only thing about Oregon’s “marijuana culture” cheap chronic?

    • joe tokes

      Yes the climate is better in the desert south west and quality better too. Just the price is better. If California gets legalized the best quality WILL come from south of the rainforests, where there is less mold.

  • frankielee

    And, coming in last is the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are adamant that it’s a gateway to their meth and opioid problem, which btw, they lead the nation in. SW VA is the meth capitol of the world. My state rep is a 35 year Sheriff and won’t even discuss the MJ issue….don’t call, don’t stop by….meeting adjourned. I suffer from severe fibromyalgia….who cares? No one in authority in this state. Go off and die quietly. Marijuana’s the devil, according to the Southern Baptists in power here.

    • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

      Ironic that Bible Belt politicians are against something
      that the “God” they CLAIM to worship said IS “good”,
      (Genesis 1:11-12, 1:29-30).

      In spring 2015, Texas State House Representative
      David Simpson (R)-Longview raised the Christian case
      for ENDING cannabis prohibition there with the introduction
      of HB-2165, which completely removes marijuana from Texas
      state criminal code, citing his Christian beliefs AS the reason:

      “God did not make a mistake when He made marijuana
      that the government needs to fix.”

    • AntiIgnorant

      I’m in Tennessee. It’s very old school, non-educated on cannabis here too. I expect the “wait and see” approach to be cited until the federal government makes a move to de-schedule. It’s no wonder the South is viewed as ignorant folks. They cling to moral high ground nonsense despite the fact that cannabis is safer than alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals. Never mind that 10’s of thousands already consume on a regular basis here. Just ignorant. But we do have a good outspoken rep (Steve Cohen). Much respect for his willingness to speak the truth.

      • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

        Also have much respect for Congressman Cohen.

        Have watched numerous news videos of him at work,
        questioning Eric Holder, Michele Leonhart, and my favorite,
        where he grills ONDCP director Michael Botticelli:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOU_3wsc35s

        • jontomas

          Great testimony. – Does anyone really believe Botticelli never heard of Harry Anslinger?

      • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

        Posted ANOTHER reply to your comment earlier,
        saying that I also have much respect for Congressman
        Steve Cohen, have watched many videos of him “grilling”
        the former Drug Czar, the former Attorney General and the
        present Director of the ONDCP,

        BUT made the mistake of posting a YouTube link,
        (to fave ABC News Steve Cohen / Michael Botticelli hearing video),
        in other comment,
        which is NOW in “pending” limbo until the
        Weed Blog mod(s) “review” it…
        (however long THAT takes…)

        • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

          Ten hours for original reply post w/ the 12min 46sec
          ABC News “US Rep at Pot Hearing” YouTube video to show up…! :-|

  • jontomas

    With California and various others joining the four Free States in November, the crumbling fraud of the federal marijuana prohibition will collapse under its own dead weight – as soon as 2017. – Now is the time for all reformers to unite behind the initiative that has the best chance of getting on the ballot and passing. – In California, this is AUMA.

    If we can unite, we will end the insane, century-long war on marijuana consumers – here and now!

    All legalization initiatives lead to the same place, anyway. The most successful states’ models will be followed by the rest of the country and we will continue to refine marijuana policy until it reaches its optimum form – just as we did with alcohol after ending ITS prohibition.

    At the very least, be sure to vote, and vote “Yes” for all legalization initiatives.

  • Chris Walters

    Canada, baby! The largest medical marijuana growth facility in the world is about two miles from my house, you should see it, it’s massive . . . Can’t wait till they roll it out recreationally.

  • joe tokes

    Pot culture came to Oregon from California. As a farm owner I know that the climate in central california is perfect for best pot production. Even southern Oregon is too cold and wet in the fall when the crop is subject to mold. The same thing is true with wine grapes, without a lot spraying the crop would mold before it ripens. We do grow good weed here, but it is easyer to grow in a warmer dryer climate where the buds can ripen and not mold.

    • justsaying

      I have lived in Portland for over 40 years. We hate you Californians. Your rape/hate/pc culture does not speak for us. Grow your dirt budget weed in California(where you gonna get the water from?) and keep it there. We want weed to be grow locally and to keep the economic revenue in state. Go balance your budget by taxing the Kardashians and leave us Oregonians alone. You have already ruined your own state. Don’t try and ruin ours!

  • PhDScientist

    This is so important for America’s Cancer Patients.
    Cancer is a horrible disease, and incredibly common place.
    If you’re an American man, you’ve got a 1 out of 2 chance of getting Cancer, and a 1 our of 2 chance of dying from it — after suffering pain beyond human description.
    Marijuana is a “Wonder Drug” for Cancer Patients undergoing Chemotherapy — 82% of American Oncologists want their patients to be able to use it if they want to.
    Please call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111, every single day — and ask everyone you know to do the same — to ask that the President get Marijuana removed from Schedule 1 IMMEDIATELY.
    Numerous Cancer Patients all around the world are seeing amazing results with High Dose Medical Marijuana Oil Therapy, especially when combined with one or more of Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, PARP inhibitors and/or immunotherapy.
    There are extremely strong Scientific arguments for this.
    We need to get large scale clinical trials of HDMMOT going immediately.
    Every minute yet another American dies of Cancer — after going through “hell on earth”
    Cancer Patients Can’t Wait.

  • PhDScientist

    This is so important for America’s Cancer Patients.
    Cancer is a horrible disease, and incredibly common place.
    If you’re an American man, you’ve got a 1 out of 2 chance of getting Cancer, and a 1 our of 2 chance of dying from it — after suffering pain beyond human description.
    Marijuana is a “Wonder Drug” for Cancer Patients undergoing Chemotherapy — 82% of American Oncologists want their patients to be able to use it if they want to..
    Numerous Cancer Patients all around the world are seeing amazing results with High Dose Medical Marijuana Oil Therapy, especially when combined with one or more of Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, PARP inhibitors and/or immunotherapy.
    There are extremely strong Scientific arguments for this.
    We need to get large scale clinical trials of HDMMOT going immediately.
    Every minute yet another American dies of Cancer — after going through “hell on earth”
    Cancer Patients Can’t Wait

  • Thomas Tony Vance

    Someone should ask Mr. Sabet this. Prohibitionists say that having a medical program is a sham and anybody can easily get access to marijuana any time they want. If we give them that, it means that the citizens of California have had easy access to marijuana for 20 years. Mr. Sabet has to tell us exactly when all the bad things he and his fellow prohibitionists predicted will happen if the citizens have access marijuana are gonna happen? How much longer must we wait for them? Prohibitionists have lost ALL credibility on this issue!

    • jontomas

      True, but they have billions of dollars, the federal government and most of the corporations behind them. That’s why it’s taken this long to overcome the B.S. they’ve been beaming into the popular mind for 80 years.

      • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

        Most glaring example of what you mentioned,
        (corporations behind cannabis prohibition),
        the anti-pot PSAs in the 1980s…
        …were funded by alcohol beverage companies…!!!
        [noticed this on the advert “credits” when these first aired].

        • jontomas

          Right. I’ll never forget how my jaw dropped when, after all the progress and societal evolution we achieved in the sixties and seventies, Ronnie Raygun was elected in 1980!

          His partnership with those prohibitionist groups moved us back into the Dark Ages for another 16 years!

  • Matt Herdman

    I live in West Virginia and I believe we have the worst drug problem in the country, we actually had the president come to Charleston a month or so ago and deliver a speech. Legal weed would do wonders for West Virginia. Unfortunately no one here seems to have any vision of how legal marijuana in West Virginia could possibly have a positive impact on our drug problem. It may not, but it could not make it any worse then what it is already. It would also create a new industry in West Virginia with many new jobs, which this state needs. But West Virginia is a Third World State, its the last to catch onto everything, so if marijuana is not de-scheduled, I will have to move out of state to make this dream come true. I moved to Colorado actually and got experience of the industry there and it was amazing. I would recommend discovering Colorado’s weed culture, especially Denver, and a visit to Colorado Springs or really any of the popular cities of Colorado. It’s beautiful, I am so happy to be able to watch this plant become so accepted worldwide. Of course I feel like any smart stoner always stays a step ahead, and in the back of our minds we think that this is all some ploy to expose all of us pot smokers and then the man is going to come down on us with force. But I don’t like to dwell on my natural paranoia, so im going to enjoy this time and enjoy the events that are happening around the world with marijuana.

    • Thomas Tony Vance

      The Journal of the American Medical Association published a report showing a 25% drop in opioid drug overdose deaths in states where the citizens have access to marijuana!!!

      • saynotohypocrisy

        This report, a large statistical analysis, was quite a smoking gun that availability of medicinal marijuana saves 1000’s of lives each year in this country, from this one use alone, as a substitute or partial substitute for opiate based pain medicine. And would save 1000’s more if it was available nationwide like other medicines. The lack of response to this report from the medical community, government , media and general public is a big disappointment to me. I think it’s earth shattering news, especially since using for physical pain is just one of the medicinal uses being verified for this miracle plant.
        With it’s bad overdose problem, West Virginia would benefit more than most from medicinal marijuana.
        The alcohol gang just doesn’t want to share power and money and status with cannabis users, they want to hog it all for themselves.

  • Ali R

    don’t keep your hopes up…i promise it will be another year of disappointment for all you pothead and specially the cocksuckers with Big Marijuana

    • jontomas

      And you’re backing up that “promise” with…? – Have you heard about the four Free States and D.C.? – Keep those blinders firmly in place. Then you won’t have to watch as we swell their ranks in November.

      BTW, do you patronize Big Beef, Big Computers, Big Auto, Big Oil, Big almost-any-product-you-can-name? – If you do, that’s hypocrisy.

      I suppose you live on a farm, grow and raise all your own food, make your own clothes, furniture, etc., right?

      • Ali R

        I make the promise based on my IQ compared to the potheads. You must be a pothead otherwise you wouldn’t compare Big other products with Big Marijuana. They won’t give a shit about your children or anyones.

        • jontomas

          Thanks for the non-answer. – No. Marijuana is not ‘magically’ different from every other product. The greedy growers against legalization don’t even care about marijuana consumers. – much less the children. – It is the fraudulent, counter-productive prohibition that PUTS marijuana into children’s hands – in their schools, parks and playgrounds. – Legal, licensed vendors don’t sell to minors.

        • Amanda

          I bet I am smarter than you are Einstein. Marijuana doesn’t make people stupid at all just more creative and less of a c**t like you are.

        • TrueGamer

          Your promises are worthless and your sub-100 IQ isn’t impressive at all.

    • Brent Usry

      First of all: If you have never smoked Marijuana in your life it is very unlikely that you are very smart at all. Marijuana opens up caverns in your mind for deeper thought. Every great song in history and every movie you have enjoyed were likely written by someone consuming Marijuana. Second of all if you think that Marijuana is of the “devil” Read Genesis 1:29 “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it”. You are part of a brainwashed populous that has controlled the masses. Its time to join the fight! The United States government has known that Marijuana is the cure for cancer since 1974. Do you really think the federal government is worried about “stoners”? Do you think the government wants to protect people and make them safe? Why do they Fluoridate the water and put formaldehyde in carpets? Why are cigarettes and alcohol legal? The reason is: they do not care about your health at all. They want you sick, because your illness is big industry! If you have ever taken one single pharmaceutical drug but talk badly of Marijuana; You are massively deceived. Marijuana has no side effects. It is a plant not a drug. You are a drug addicts and you call people who use a natural herb created by God “potheads”. Do some studying and realize Marijuana is illegal because it is too strong of a product to compete with. Deep inside, you know what we are saying is true! Stop fighting and join the revoution. This is your true calling. You are needed!

  • red

    get use to it, it’s gonna be smoked legal or illegal. Always has, always will. You see smuggling of it has already substantially dropped, thus reducing crime. People are working, filling the jobs it has created Sick people are getting medical help. Be it there imagination or not, it’s help. I could go on and…
    Maybe those cops wasting their time, could protect us from the crazies.

    • jontomas

      No. Consumers AND voters are tired of the mess of “medical” excuse marijuana. – It’s time to drag the industry out of the shadows.

    • Gene Landrum

      I agree with red! Maybe the Aggressive Cops will ‘mellow out’ if Pot is legal! Just one more ‘Moral Law’ they won’t have to enforce with or without violence! Another ‘Moral Law’ they should stop enforcing is Prostitution! Put a S.T.O.P in it’s place! (Stop is Sales Tax On Pussy) These are my opinions against ‘Moral Laws’ that are created based on some Group Think morals! 2016

  • TrueGamer

    I hope for the best, but realistically, I expect very little significant change over the next couple of years.

  • Tsukiko Denimore

    Pro-Marijuana Just Legalize it Say YES WE CAN ”’ The People Demand it Legalize Marijuana Give The People What They Want Stop ALL The Fuss Just Repeat Yes We Can Legalize Marijuana in 2016. I Am Pro- Marijuana & I Support if you Don’t Approve Guess What I Don’t Care Fin

  • Jace Mindue

    We the people not we the corporate morons. We demand that cannabis be legalized now.

  • sdkeller72

    We need to start removing these obstructionists from their cushy government jobs and replace them with people that will work on behalf of the people of this state. Over 85% of the population in this state support the use medical cannabis and yet still these republican criminals in Harrisburg are doing everything they can to stop it from happening. I’m tired of suffering because of a handful of Koch funded Republicans refuse to listen to the will of the people. Pennsylvania has until the end of the year to get this done or my wife and I are selling our home and moving to a state that treats their citizens with more respect.