We still have several months left before the end of 2018, but we can’t wait to make a list of marijuana-related milestones this year. Because these milestones made cannabis history and have propelled the pot industry to much greater heights!
Cannabis scored these major wins this year:
1. Canada legalizes recreational cannabis.
Canada’s passing of the Cannabis Act is perhaps the most exciting development in the cannabis space this year. After months of debate and of being volleyed back and forth between the Senate and the House of Commons, the bill was approved and is now clearing the way for the sale of adult-use cannabis. Retail sales will be launched on October 17.
Canada’s legalization of recreational cannabis makes it the first G7 nation to fully legalize the drug. G7 or Group of Seven is a group of the world’s seven most powerful industrialized countries. It is composed of Canada, the United States, Japan, Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
2. The FDA approves the first cannabis-derived drug.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD)-based medicine, its thumbs-up. Made by U.K. pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is the very first cannabis-derived drug to be approved by the FDA. This oral medicine was formulated to treat two types of rare childhood-onset epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
However, before Epidiolex can be sold in the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Administration still has to reschedule cannabis from being a Schedule I drug. Schedule I means that the substance is considered to have no therapeutic value and with a high potential for abuse, and thus is prohibited.
3. Vermont becomes first state to approve recreational cannabis through legislative process.
In January, Vermont became the ninth U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis. However, Vermont’s case is unique in that it was the first state to legalize adult-use pot through the legislative process . This is because the state does not have the initiative and referendum process, and all of legislation is proposed and approved by legislature.
4. Aurora Cannabis completes largest cannabis buyout.
This year saw the largest cannabis stock deal in history with Aurora Cannabis acquiring MedReleaf Corp. for about $2.5 billion. Before this, Aurora Cannabis acquired CanniMed Therapeutics for $852 million.
Aurora’s aggressive expansion moves is brought on by the fact that the company wants to secure long-term supply deals and ample market share.
5. Cannabis companies are listing their shares in major stock exchanges.
Ontario-based Cronos Group made history in February 2018 by becoming the first cannabis stock to uplist from the over-the-country exchange to Nasdaq.
In May, Canopy Growth Corp became the first cannabis stock to uplist to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Canada-based Tilray also became the largest Canadian cannabis stock to go on the initial public offering route on the Nasdaq.
For these companies, listing on a more reputable stock exchange is expected to improve their liquidity, validity, and access to capital.
6. Bank of Montreal co-leads a round of cannabis equity financing
In February, the Bank of Montreal co-led a round of equity financing for Canopy Growth. This financing deal is valued at $136 million.
This event made cannabis history because this was the first time a major bank was involved in a financial arrangement of this kind. And considering that major banks and financial institutions stay away from cannabis businesses for fear of a federal crackdown, this was indeed a huge step forward for the banking industry.
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This has been a really big and progressive year for cannabis. And because 2018 is not yet over, there are many milestones that can still take place for cannabis. There are pending legalization bills still awaiting approval and there are large cannabis companies that may still surprise us with an even bigger takeover deal.