What 2020 Did For Cannabis and 1906
Say what you will about 2020 – and there’s plenty to say – it was certainly a year no one will forget. We commemorated the year with a limited edition 1906 tee, which quickly sold out.
While the events of the year exposed our tragically inadequate systems for coping with a global pandemic and racial injustice, among other issues, they also demonstrated why even more urgency is needed around addressing the role cannabis has to play in our world. It’s imperative we address the misguided War on Drugs that disproportionately impacts African-Americans and people of color and broaden the conversation on health, well-being, and self-care.
SHIFTING REGULATIONS AND ATTITUDES
For cannabis, 2020 brought welcome good news. On Dec. 4, we celebrated the passage of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, a massive leap toward federally legalizing marijuana.
By the end of December, both the U.S. House and Senate had passed versions of the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion (CARE) Act, which will push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop additional cannabis-derived medicines and improve the process for researchers who want to study the plant.
Evolving attitudes toward cannabis can be seen the world over. On Dec. 1, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from the list of the world’s most dangerous drugs, a giant step for international drug reform, one that will open up opportunities to expand research into medicinal cannabis.
This came about a month after the resounding results in the 2020 election, in which voters in five wildly diverse states, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, New Jersey and Mississippi, supported pro-cannabis initiatives by large margins. Additionally, Oregon voters approved decriminalization of small amounts of all illegal drugs, and they joined voters in Washington, D.C., in allowing for psilocybin to be used legally.
Once these measures are fully enacted, 70 percent of the country will have legal access, and about one-third of those won’t need a medical card.
And in Colorado and Illinois, governors are leading the charge to expunge convictions for cannabis possession that occurred prior to legalization, efforts that are life-changing for those people and families directly impacted.
A GLOBAL PANDEMIC CALLS ON CANNABIS
At 1906, as the global reach of the Covid-19 outbreak became evident, we felt fortunate to be able to share our message of "Breathe, Sleep, Love," our internal mantra of how to get through and even enjoy yourself during uncertain times. Instead of the typical, fun-loving 4/20 celebrations, we helped to create Friends in Weed, a program designed to support budtenders who found themselves suddenly in the role of essential workers, yet struggling financially. The effort, which created a loop of economical support between cannabis businesses, restaurants and budtenders, raised nearly $80,000 to purchase local restaurant gift cards for dispensary personnel.
On 4/20, our fundraising initiative focused on Colorado Governor Jared Polis's COVID Relief Fund, providing aid to first responders, healthcare professionals, educators, and other crucial community services throughout the state.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we’ve been grateful that state after state labeled dispensaries as essential businesses, and many state officials worked to loosen rules around home delivery, online purchasing, quantity limits, and more to respond to the reality that for many consumers the line between medical and adult use is arbitrary. People need what makes their lives better, especially in a crisis. Research demonstrates that the majority of adult use consumers are seeking therapeutic rather than recreational benefits.
Because of the lung health implications of COVID-19, compounding the revelations about the respiratory impacts of vaping, [people turned toward edibles](<https://1906newhighs.com/news/cannabis-consumers-reach-for-edibles-in-response-to-covid-19/) in far greater numbers in 2020. And for many parents, edibles became the discrete tool for coping with the stressors of the day.
“After years in public health, I joined 1906 precisely for their commitment to serving consumers fast-acting, low-dose, non-smokable products,” said 1906 Chief of Policy and Health Innovations Jackie Cornell. “Cannabis is medicine, but smoking contributes to adverse health outcomes; we knew this long before COVID-19. Now more than ever, every cannabis patient and consumer should consider exploring non-smokable options to preserve their pulmonary and respiratory health.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated sales of the entire cannabis sector, the effect was particularly strong in edibles.
In July, the New York Times reported on the trend, quoting Chris Beals, the C.E.O. of Weedmaps, an online directory for dispensaries, who said that “overall sales of edibles in March were double those in February.”
A PIVOTAL ELECTION
This fall marked a crucial election year for issues from local regulations to national power. Because we feel participation is the foundation of democracy, we created a voter mobilization campaign called THIS IS WHAT A VOTER LOOKS LIKE. This effort galvanized the 1906 community to show America the changing face of the electorate and get out the vote. We mailed out over 400 sticker sheets to individuals and businesses across the country, representing the diversity of the United States. Civic-minded people shared over 300 sticker selfies at #thisiswhatavoterlookslike, and we completely sold out our limited edition voter tees. Your engagement made a difference (and we were even picked up by CNN)!
But, and this may be the understatement of the year, political action doesn’t stop on election day. As a board member of the Cannabis Voter Project, 1906 is committed to strengthening the voice and power of cannabis consumers at the ballot box through education and engagement.
1906 leaders serve on the Cannabis Trade Federation’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force with the goal of accelerating opportunity, ownership, policy change and criminal justice reform for people of color in cannabis. This year, we introduced a benchmarking tool to measure progress and hold members accountable.
Overall, 2020 was a year of growth for 1906. We released our products in two additional states, Oklahoma and Illinois, and finalized plans for launch in Massachusetts in early 2021. We expect to enter several other markets this year so, like all of you, we can’t see the future, but we look forward to better, happier and healthier days ahead!