Tuesday November 3, 2020

By Andrew Ward

Cannabis News Recap: October 2020 News

October was a month filled with worldwide cannabis legislation and other significant activity. With several positives and a few substantial setbacks along the way, the global cannabis picture began to clarify by the end of October, for better or worse. 

The U.S. got a taste of what may be on deck if the powers that be change hands in 2021. Meanwhile, New Zealand let the world know if it will be the third nation to legalize adults use cannabis--Spoiler alert: The ball's in your court now, Mexico. Now, let's dive into those stories and much more that made up the month that was for marijuana.

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Kamala Harris Mentions Decriminalization During VP Debate

Cannabis reform received the slightest of mentions during the 2020 debates. On October 7, Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden's VP nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, squared off, with the two discussing a range of topics. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, Harris reiterated a Biden campaign policy that calls for the decriminalization of cannabis as well as the expunging of convictions. 

Senator Kamala Harris at a debate
At the VP debate Senator Kamala Harris sided with the decriminalization of marijuana. photo credit

While short on airtime, the statement sent ripples through the industry and advocacy circles. The mention is the most prominent public endorsement reform has received and could signal what might be in store if Biden is elected. It didn't take long for Wall Street to take notice, either. Marijuana stocks surged in the days after the debate. 

Americans Start Early Voting With Cannabis Legalization On Several Ballots

Early voting began across much of the United States in October. Hours-long lines filled with COVID-19 protocols underscored a historic vote that expects to have a significant turnout deciding several high-stakes elections. Several states headed to the polls to determine if citizens wanted to see medical and/or adult use cannabis laws enacted. They included South Dakota, who was voting on two ballot questions regarding the passage of medical and adult use.

If both South Dakota laws were to pass, the state would become the first in the nation to set up an adult use market without having medical laws previously in place.

Others almost headed to the polls, including Nebraska. The state had its ballot initiative pulled in September after it was deemed unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court rejected similar attempts in Montana in the days leading up to the election. In the end, Montana’s measure made it to the ballot. Now we wait for the votes to be cast to see who makes it through.

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New Zealand Rejects Cannabis Legalization

In a bit of disheartening international cannabis politics, voters in New Zealand rejected an initiative that would have legalized adult use marijuana. The measure failed to pass with 53% of voters opposed to the action. 

Though cannabis was not approved, the nation continued taking progressive steps. It re-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while choosing its most liberal-leaning Congress in decades. 

New Zealand Flag
After a very close vote, the fight for cannabis legalization in New Zealand will have to continue on. photo credit

Many outside New Zealand may have assumed the progressive nation would greenlight cannabis as it did euthanasia during the election. However, many on the ground in the lead up to the big day told this reporter that while it is open to many forward-thinking measures, New Zealand remains steeped in anti-cannabis thinking and lawmaking. 

It is expected that activists will now prepare for re-engaging the subject soon. With New Zealanders letting their voice be heard, attention now shifts to Mexico, where lawmakers are close to passing adult use legislation before its December 15, 2020, deadline. 

Dutch Government Says No To Additional Cannabis Laws During COVID

Let's shift from elections to law. On October 19, Dutch parliamentary leaders were told to stand down in their quest to add rules to thwart public cannabis consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under laws ordered just a few days prior, restaurants were to be closed except for takeout service. Meanwhile, cannabis and alcohol sales could carry on until 8 pm. 

The Dutch Police
Rather than adding additional laws during COVID, the Dutch government decided that the current cannabis laws would be sufficient. photo credit

Despite parliament's insistence, Dutch Justices pushed back, suggesting that the current laws may be confusing. In a letter to lawmakers, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said that the existing orders were sufficient and that no additional laws were needed considering the current parameters. The Justice added that bans on gatherings of more than four people adequately covered the matter.

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Seattle Basketball Legend Shawn Kemp To Open City's First Black-Owned Dispensary

Moving from politics to a feel-good story out of the Pacific Northwest, beloved Seattle basketball legend Shawn Kemp recently entered the legal cannabis space. The man known for his thunderous dunks and explosion on the court is coming to the city's marijuana market with a long-overdue boom as well: Kemp's store claims it is the city's first Black-owned dispensary.

Not far from the Sonics former home, Key Arena, "The Reign Man" opened his Shawn Kemp's Cannabis shop on October 30. Kemp hopes the opening is a success for himself, also serving as a sign to others, especially people of color, to get involved in the legal market. 

Kemp enters the space, following in the steps of former Sonic teammate Gary Payton, who owns a vape cartridge company, CannaSports. Despite owning a cannabis venture, Payton may be most known in the community for the Cookies brand strain that bears his name. 

See You Next Month!

We hope that provides a glimpse into another monumental month for marijuana. Be sure to follow all the latest news with PotGuide, as well as all the other excellent writers and publications mentioned in this article.


Did something happen in October that we missed? Share in the comments!

Photo Credit: cottonbro (license)


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.



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