With legalization movements gaining momentum in Canada and America, it's been an exciting year for cannabis enthusiasts. Here's a look back on some of the biggest news stories in the world of weed.
1. Calls to End the War on Drugs
Without a doubt, 2015 was a bad year for people who support the war on drugs. We're looking at you, Chris Christie and Ben Carson. Influencers from many different walks of life called for a ceasefire on the drug war, including Richard Branson, Bernie Sanders, The Brookings Institution, - Jeb Bush (to some extent) and even Santa Claus.
Whether or not America ever legalizes cannabis nationwide, there is clearly a growing demand to reform the country's cannabis laws.
2. Decriminalization Gains Steam
Looking back, 2015 could be called the year of decriminalization. A number of cities, states and even entire countries decided to stop making pot busts for simple possession last year. These include New York City, Pittsburgh, 2 communities in Michigan, the entire state of Delaware, Scotland and Chile (more or less).
Meanwhile, State Representative Kelly Cassidy has introduced a decriminalization bill to the Illinois legislature on Dec. 10. And statewide decriminalization will take effect in Missouri on Jan. 1, 2017.
3. Washington, DC Edges Closer to Actual Legalization
In November 2014, a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in Washington, DC received overwhelming support from voters. But legalization hasn't really taken effect yet because Congress is interfering with the district's laws.
However, in February 2015, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser helped move things forward this year. Despite threats of being arrested, Mayor Bowser told her constituents that they could grow and puff their own buds at home. But the struggle to establish a legal marijuana market - as in Colorado or Oregon - continues.
4. Green States Making More Green
If there was any doubt about the financial perks of legalization, an article in the The Huffington Post proved otherwise in August 2015. According to their report, Colorado and Washington state reaped at least $200 million in total tax revenue in 2014. But that doesn't mean the other two legal states are struggling. Oregon begins collecting taxes on retail sales starting Jan. 4, 2016. Meanwhile, Alaska is still finalizing the regulations for their retail market.
5. New Highs and Lows in Canada
On Oct. 19, Canadian voters elected a pro-legalization government led by Justin Trudeau, who replaced Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a staunch opponent to cannabis. Since then, Prime Minister Trudeau has pledged that legalization would be a top priority. However, prohibition is still the law of the land. And no one is reeling from this legal limbo more than the owners of medicinal cannabis dispensaries that were raided soon after the election.
6. The Majority of Americans Oppose Prohibition
Last year, activists received confirmation that the legalization movement is catching on across the country. According to a Gallup Poll released in October, 58 percent of Americans favored legalization, matching the same high in 2013, which could mean support for legalization is strong and stable.
7. Marijuana Monopoly Becomes a Bust in the Buckeye State
On Nov. 3, 2015, Ohioans resoundingly voted against Issue 3, a ballot measure that would have legalized cannabis statewide and created a marijuana monopoly. The failure of this initiative, which many saw as a blatant cash grab, will undoubtedly influence how other legalization activists will approach the issue.
8. Cannabis Becomes a Human Right
Mexico may soon be in a tight race to beat Canada and become the third country to legalize cannabis (after Uruguay and North Korea). On Nov. 4, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that access to marijuana was a human right. The decision only effects the 4 plaintiffs in a case against the state. But the ruling has sparked a national debate on the future of cannabis in the country, which will begin on Jan. 25, 2016.