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Marijuana legalization
June 19, 2018

On Tuesday, Canada's Senate gave final approval to a bill that will legalize marijuana nationwide. The 52-29 vote makes Canada the second nation in the world to legalize and regulate cannabis, after Uruguay, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the news.

Trudeau's government had wanted the legislation to take effect by July 1, but it will now aim for September after determining that provincial and territorial governments — each province will set up its own marijuana marketplace — will need eight to 12 weeks to prepare. The law, which also needs royal assent, will allow each adult to possess up to 30 grams of pot and grow up to four plants, and the minimum age to purchase marijuana will be 18 or 19, decided by each province. That's younger than the minimum age in the nine U.S. states that have legalized weed, but the Trudeau government said setting the limit at 21 would encourage the creation of a black market. Canada's Conservatives oppose legalization. Peter Weber

September 5, 2017

Pot growers in states where marijuana has been legalized for adult consumption are grappling with the problems of supply and demand that have challenged other commodities. Wholesale U.S. marijuana prices dropped to $1,614 a pound in July, from a high of $2,133 a pound in September 2015, according to New Leaf Data Services, and while that has been great for pot consumers, growers are less enthusiastic, The Wall Street Journal reports. Axios broke that down into more consumer-scale prices, citing BDS Analytics.

As with food crops, beer, and other commodities, the $6 billion marijuana industry is breaking into niches, with indoor growers producing more uniform, consistent, and abundant pot crops and outdoor "sun grown" purveyors trying to win over more environmentally conscious and organic-focused smokers (though marijuana can't boast USDA organic certification because it is still illegal under federal law, the Journal notes). The swag, or low-quality pot, is used to make oils and edibles. You can read more about how the marijuana industry is dealing with freer markets at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

March 21, 2016

Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is technically illegal in the U.S. But Americans still spent $5.7 billion on legal marijuana in 2015, thanks to an expanding patchwork of state laws allowing recreational or medical use of the drug. According to a new report by pot-focused data analysis firm New Frontier and ArcView Market Research, adult recreational use of weed — currently legal in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. — will grow steadily in coming years, reaching $12.1 billion in 2020 from $1.3 billion in 2015 and $347 million in 2014.

Added to the projected $10.7 billion in medical marijuana sales, Americans will spend $22.8 billion in 2020, according to the 4th Edition State of Legal Marijuana Markets Report. Those numbers rely on events that are hard to predict. If California voters approve legalizing recreational pot in November, for example, growth will be much stronger than if they reject the proposal.

Also in November, voters nationwide pick a new president. The Democrats in the race have been supportive of loosening federal marijuana regulations, while the Republicans generally favor medical marijuana, oppose loosening federal laws, and profess openness to letting states experiment (the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project gives Bernie Sanders an A on pot policy, Hillary Clinton a B, Donald Trump a C+, Ted Cruz a C, and John Kasich a C-). You can see where states currently stand on marijuana at USA Today. Peter Weber

November 4, 2015

On Wednesday, Mexico's Supreme Court decided, 4-1, that four plaintiffs should be able to grow and use marijuana for their personal use, a ruling that advocates hope will lead to legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana in the country.

"This court recognizes the reach of personal freedom," said Justice Olga Sanchez. "People decide the course of their lives." Although the ruling only permits the plaintiffs to produce and consume marijuana, some of the justices have called on the Mexican Congress to debate legalization, The Wall Street Journal reports. For more than a decade, it has been legal in Mexico for a person to possess small amounts of pot, but cultivating and selling marijuana has been illegal since 1926.

In Mexico, violence related to drug gangs has left 100,000 people dead and 20,000 missing over the last 10 years. While opponents say legalizing marijuana will lead to more young people using pot, advocates say that a substantial amount of urban crime is connected to street sales of marijuana and other drugs, and many of those in prison on federal organized crime charges are there because of marijuana-related offenses. Armando Santacruz, an executive who was one of the professionals who brought the case before the court, told WSJ that his goal is to decrease violence linked to drugs. "We aren't a bunch of dope heads," he said. Catherine Garcia

July 1, 2015

As of Wednesday, it is now legal to possess and grow marijuana in Oregon. The state is the fourth in the country to adopt laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21. However, there is one catch to the law: While Oregonians can smoke and grow marijuana, they cannot purchase it. Marijuana activists say that the law is still the first step in a path toward state-licensed pot stores. A bill allowing dispensaries to sell is making its way through the Oregon legislature and, if passed, could make the sale of marijuana legal by October 1. Becca Stanek

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