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Decade in Review for Cannabis


The 2010’s were an amazing decade for the cannabis industry. At the beginning of the decade, you couldn’t buy recreational marijuana at all in the United States. 10 years later, it’s now legal for medical use in 33 states plus Washington, D.C; 10 of these states also have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Within the past month, legislation has been passed in the House of Representatives that would make cannabis legal on a Federal level, something unfathomable just 10 years ago. So, how did we end up here, what major legislative impacts can we see from a decade in review for cannabis?

Let’s take a look at some of the landmark moments, political decisions, and consumer trends over the past decade to see where we stand as we enter 2020!


  • Applications for medical cannabis licenses quadruple in 2010 from 2009, with almost 1,000 residents per day applying for their license.
  • Colorado also hosts the first ‘Cannabis Crown’, a two-day event in Aspen, CO which drew thousands of enthusiasts and businesses together.
  • Arizona, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C all legalize cannabis for medical use.


On November 6, 2012, Colorado passed Amendment 64, legalizing cannabis for recreational use in a landmark day for the industry. Washington would join Colorado in making history as the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use in the US. This was the start of a huge shift in the mindset of the typical American citizen concerning marijuana.


  • Many other vital pieces of legislation would be passed in a multitude of states, outlining rules and regulations for retailers, distributors, vendors, and more.
  • CNN airs its “Weed” special. This marked the first time a major television network aired a program about cannabis in primetime, and signaled a subtle yet acute psychological shift of the American public. The program discussed the use and efficacy of CBD and medical marijuana to help treat children suffering from epilepsy and related seizures. CBD had won the hearts of the public as an effective medical substance.


  • On January 1, 2014, the first recreational sale happened in Colorado as Iraqi War Veteran Sean Azzariti purchased an eighth of Bubba Kush and some infused chocolate truffles in a landmark moment for $59.74. We are well on our way!
  • Maryland, Minnesota, and New York legalize cannabis for medical use
  • Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. legalize cannabis for recreational use in addition to existing medical usage.


  • This was a huge year in the cannabis industry, politically, as 5 states legalized cannabis for medical use including Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
  • 5 more legalized cannabis for recreational use; California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Vermont. More cannabis dispensaries open all over the country.


No major legalizations happened or significant cannabis legislation was passed in 2017. However, it is important to note that while nothing official happened, cannabis activist and enthusiasts were not resting on their laurels. Groups such as NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) were hard at work lobbying for change. Individual activists were hard at work as well, taking a grassroots movement and turning it into a large scale change of thought across the United States by appealing to politicians, media coverage, and their fellow citizens.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama administration piece of legislature offering some protection to cannabis businesses in states where legalization has occurred. Many became disillusioned at this time because of the views of Sessions and Trump on cannabis, however, they were largely unsuccessful in changing the public’s perception of cannabis consumption.


  • 2018 was the year of CBD, as the Farm Bill made industrial hemp legal nationwide. This led to an influx of entrepreneurs, investor capital, and media attention to the industry. CBD lotions, creams, bath bombs, and edibles flooded the market as CBD became a household name for its medical properties.
  • Canada makes cannabis legal nationwide for recreational use, becoming just the second country to do so this decade behind Uruguay.


  • The last year of this decade has been a whirlwind of change, not only in Colorado but across the nation. The MORE Act was passed in November of this year in the House of Representatives, which would legalize cannabis federally as well as enact a new tax and expunge non-violent, cannabis related crimes.
  • As of June 2019, Canada has raised over $140 million in tax revenue in just 5.5 months since legalization.
  • Since January 1, 2014, Colorado has legally sold the equivalent of $6 billion in cannabis, a staggering number.
  • House Bill 1230 passed, allowing public consumption licenses to be sold to Denver businesses for the first time.

Heading Into 2020

If there’s one thing this decade in review for cannabis proves it’s that this decade has brought about major changes in the cannabis industry. If you were to ask someone 10 years ago if we would be where we are now, the answer would probably be a resounding no.

Over the past decade:

The cannabis industry stands now on a platform stronger than ever. 34 states have legalized cannabis either medically or recreationally. Over 60% of Americans agree that cannabis should be legalized nationwide. There are cannabis businesses being traded on the stock market. While not federally official, there have been concrete steps taken in the right direction in the highest levels of the federal government which have far reaching effects on consumer psyche and gives the marijuana industry a great starting point as we head into a new decade. Who knows where we will be in another 10 years in our next decade in review for cannabis! map-of-states-with-legal-cannabis

January 15, 2020
Cannabis News  |  Industry News
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