When it comes to cannabis in California, 2017 has largely been about getting ready for what’s coming next year, with legal recreational sales starting Jan. 1.
But there were still lots of big headlines in the world of weed this year. So we’re counting down the top 17 cannabis stories that happened in or affected California over the past 12 months.
Read on for our picks on the Golden State’s 17th through the ninth most significant pot tales. And click the links below to read the full stories — plus check out the photos and videos — that shaped our year.
Then come back to The Cannifornian on Saturday to check out the top eight stories of 2017.
17. Pet owners turn to cannabis
As marijuana legalization and acceptance has spread, more people have been using cannabis products to treat their pets for anxiety, arthritis and more. Some veterinarians have reported a spike in pets overdosed pets as a result. But that hasn’t slowed a drive, in particular, to research how CBD can help our furry friends. And a group of vets and lawmakers made a big push this year for the federal government to allow more research in this area.
16. Festivals grow despite uncertain future
California’s cannabis festival circuit has been growing bigger each year, and 2017 was no exception. Attendance was up this year at High Times’ Cannabis Cup events in Southern California and Northern California, the Chalice festival in Victorville and the massive Emerald Cup that recently wrapped in Santa Rosa. State regulations did offer a pathway for these events to continue in 2018 and beyond, though the location of some festivals is uncertain due to the new laws.
15. California builds cannabis tourism industry
The Golden State is a top destination for tourists, and it’s long been known as cannabis-friendly for residents and visitors alike. So, as marijuana becomes fully legal in the state, it just makes sense to combine the two into a growing cannatourism industry. We’re seeing hotels cater to cannabis lovers, while spas and ranches welcome marijuana retreats. There are 420-friendly tours and painting classes popping up everywhere. And the Emerald Triangle is of course looking to cash in on its reputation as the marijuana growing capital of the world.
14. Athletes advocate for medical marijuana
Athletes continue to be some of the most high-profile advocates for medical marijuana access. Former NFL stars — many of whom have suffered repeated concussions and other injuries on the field — have been particularly vocal, with league leadership also showing some openness this year to a change in policy. More fitness enthusiasts are also speaking openly about how they’re incorporating marijuana into their wellness routines. And events like the 420 Games and cannabis-infused yoga classes are increasingly counteracting the lazy stoner stereotype.
13. Marijuana gets more mainstream
Speaking of cannabis popping up in unexpected places, 2017 saw the plant make huge strides at becoming part of mainstream culture. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the significance behind Netflix launching “Disjointed,” an entire series — complete with big-name stars — that’s set in a marijuana dispensary and spawned its own strain names. We saw cannabis in fashion and in beauty products. And we saw polls and statistics showing that more Americans than ever are OK with marijuana.
12. Wildfires harm growers, raise insurance concerns
Wildfires that devastated Northern California in the early fall also had a big impact on cannabis farms just as many growers were getting ready to harvest their crops. And the recovery effort has been particularly challenging for cultivators due to federal laws against marijuana, with fundraisers shut down and many cultivators unable to get insurance. California is leading the charge to break down those barriers to the insurance industry, with some progress made in 2017.
11. Veterans join industry, fight for access
A survey this year by the American Legion shows more veterans than ever are turning to cannabis to ease symptoms of their physical, mental and emotional wounds. Many are also choosing to work in California’s emerging legal marijuana industry. And they’ve lead the charge in 2017 at making PTSD a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in states across the country.
10. Push for banking access builds
Big banks don’t handle cannabis-related money because the drug remains illegal federally — a factor that figures to be a hurdle for the fast-growing industry. So State Treasurer John Chiang formed a working group that’s been meeting this year to talk solutions, with a set of recommendations released in November. California is studying the idea of forming a public bank, for one. So are some cities, including Oakland and Los Angeles.
9. Marijuana eyed as cause, solution for opioid crisis
More people are dying of drug overdoses than ever before, as the opioid addition crisis continues to grow. Some folks such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions have blamed marijuana, sticking with the largely debunked gateway theory. Others are saying marijuana could be the solution. New research this year shows lower opioid addiction rates in states with medical marijuana access. And a clinic in Los Angeles started using cannabis to help patients wean off painkillers.
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