So, 2016! Pretty wild, ey? Say what you will about the world’s trajectory this year, but 2016 was a pretty great year for weed in the U.S. Now, roughly one in five Americans live in a State in which they can legally smoke pot, largely as a result of developments that occurred in 2016.
But what does this year have in store for everyone’s favorite, plucky little herb? More legalization? Less?
If we’re going to talk about policy, we first need to take care of the giant, blonde elephant in the room: the 2016 election. The new president is vocally teetotal with a pretty negative attitude towards mind-altering substances in general. The fact that people to whom legalization is a non-priority at best control branches of this government means things don’t look too rosy for weed in 2017 on the surface.
But look closer and there are plenty of reasons to be positive; Obama wasn’t exactly Peter Tosh when it came to legalizing it either, and it still happened in four states.
A marijuana dispensary in Oregon
If you’re hoping to be able to burn one down without a doctor’s letter in the next 12 months, well, it kind of depends on where you live. The East Coast looks like a pretty good place to be; Vermont, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware are all looking at legalization this year. Things are stirring in the south too; there will be considerations of the issue in states that might surprise you like Texas, Missouri, Kentucky and New Mexico. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of this will go through, but theses are the States to watch.
There’s more to weed’s trajectory than legalization, though; what about the industry in general? Some changes in the culture seem imminent. Forbes points out that, given California’s recent decision to approve legalization, Los Angeles is likely to emerge as the nation’s weed capital, dwarfing Denver, the city that many consider the current marijuana mecca.
It also seems likely that weed is going to make even bigger forays into our pop culture. Shows like Broad City and particularly High Maintenance have already gleefully brought nice, wholesome marijuana use to our T.V. screens; expect to see more of that as creators are emboldened and network execs look to cash in.
High Maintenance’s Ben Sinclair
There also seems likely to be an increase in the availability of bespoke, “craft” marijuana; much like beer, which over the last few years has turned (at least in the eyes of many) into a simple mass-produced intoxicant to something that bearded men debate seriously in dark, smoky rooms. Expect to see a focus on quality, uniqueness and branding in States where your smoke is legal.
This will also lead to more carefully crafted and thoughtful weed products too. You’re probably going to have a lot more places to shop for cool, inventive marijuana accessories than your neighborhood head-shop soon. We can’t say we’re surprised.
It really does seem that, all things considered, things are looking pretty positive for us smokers in 2017. Call us naïve, but it seems that the train is already rolling and that all we can do is get onboard. We’ll smoke to that.