The Top Cannabis Newsmaker of 2018 Is Exactly Who You'd Expect

There was no shortage of big news in the cannabis space over the last year. In 2018, we saw Michigan became the first state in the American Midwest to repeal prohibition, hemp was finally legalized by Congress and a Russian presidential candidate tried to take on Vladimir Putin with promises to legalize marijuana throughout Mother Russia.

But none of that came close to rivalling the top cannabis newsmaker of the year. That honor belongs Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, who followed through on his 2015 campaign promise to legalize cannabis across the Great White North. Or to use the words of Canadian musician Ashley MacIsaac, he became the pot dealer for over 36,000,000 Canadians overnight.

October 17 didn't just change federal law in Canada. Trudeau's groundbreaking drug policy gave the cannabis legalization movement an unprecedented victory. Canada is only the second country in the world - and the first G20 nation - to repeal cannabis prohibition. And although Uruguay claimed the title as the first country to legalize recreational use, Canada is nevertheless the first to legalize a retail market as the South American rival did not establish a commercial system for cannabis sales when it repealed prohibition in 2014.

Of course, the early days of legalization haven't been smooth sailing. Rampant supply shortages have caused dispensaries across the country to shorten their hours or close down altogether until new inventory can be shipped in. But compared to all the other problems that Canada could have on its hands in the wake of legalization, a lack of cannabis stock is little more than an inconvenience. Since legalization, police have not reported an increase in cannabis offences. And there hasn't been a spike in drug-impaired driving either.

It's almost as though adults have always been responsible enough to figure out when to say when and what not to do when stoned. We didn't need handcuffs to teach us that, and Prime Minister Trudeau had the good sense to recognize that by ending nearly a century of a failed drug policy that did not curb cannabis consumption or keep marijuana out of the hands of children.

So Trudeau replaced that failed policy with a system designed to cultivate a safe and reliable products for  cannabis consumers across the country. 

But Trudeau isn't one of them. Even though the prime minister has smoked a joint in the past, he has no plans to have a puff of legal weed in the foreseeable future. "[It] was never something that interested me much," Trudeau told Guy Lepage - host of the Quebec talk show 'Tout le monde en parle' - last October when asked if he would take up cannabis again now that it's legal.

While he readily denied having any interest in marijuana, we'd like to think that Trudeau cracked the window of the office in 24 Sussex Drive - the Canadian prime minister's official address - and sparked a spliff after a long, hard day on October 17.

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Few other entrepreneurs in the cannabis space have their hands in quite as many ventures as Lorne Gertner. Currently dubbed the "godfather of the Canadian cannabis industry," Gertner told Civilized, "If we could live through normalization, we could change the world." Hailing from the fashion industry, this Toronto native says he's on a mission to "make the world a better place through cannabis and design excellence." The only catch is, well, normalizing cannabis — and that's where Gertner's keen eye for style comes in. "In the old days, you were going to be different or you were going to be normal," said Thom Antonio, Gertner's friend, creative director, and collaborator of 35 years.

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