Since Colorado and Washington State first legalized recreational pot in 2012, every year has been a very big year for weed. But 2014 was something special. Now that the year has come and gone, let’s reflect on our many victories.

Marijuana American FlagThe first legal pot shops anywhere on Earth opened their doors in Colorado Jan. 1, 2014. The day went swimmingly, with big crowds, polite lines, and millions of dollars in cash.

Weed also went legal in Washington last year, with the first shops opening around the state in July. There were a few problems there, notably a shortage of product, but nothing serious enough to endanger legalization.

Alaska and Oregon legalized recreational weed

The real action, though, was at the ballot box. Two more states legalized weed for recreational use: Alaska and Oregon. Both decriminalized many years ago, and both allowed medical marijuana, so legalization was always a good bet.

Voters also chose to legalize in Washington, D.C., but that vote is in serious jeopardy. Congress passed a budget amendment in December that blocks the District from enacting the new policy for at least a year.

President Obama signed the legislation despite his support for reform. The amendment was tacked onto the massive spending bill for 2015, making it nearly impossible for Obama to fight it.

The only real shortfall was in Florida

There was only one real loss this year. That came in Florida, where voters rejected a medical marijuana proposal. The bill won 58 percent of the vote, but it needed 60 percent to become law. Still, a clear majority of voters there support the idea.

Three other states did pass medical marijuana laws in 2014: Minnesota, Maryland and New York. The laws in Minnesota and New York are the first to ban patients from consuming pot by smoking it.

Deep South states allow medical CBD for kids

Marijuana LeafAnother few states, mostly in the Deep South, enacted laws allowing a non-intoxicating form of MMJ for children with severe epilepsy. And in another big development for medical weed, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed his mind and came out in favor of medical weed during a major segment.

On Capitol Hill, Congress took its first substantive steps toward real reform this year. Lawmakers passed a bill blocking the federal government from intervening in medical marijuana where it’s legal.

The feds also removed barriers to legalization on the nation’s 300-plus Native American reservations. Though there are few tribes considering the idea, the change in policy could reflect a rapidly improving situation for states that decide to legalize.

More decriminalization

Two major cities decriminalized in 2014: Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Even if legalization dies in the District, residents will still be able to carry small amounts of weed without threat of arrest.

Trouble arose late in the year in the form of a lawsuit by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado. The attorneys general of those two conservative states claim huge amounts of weed are flowing over their borders – despite evidence to the contrary – and interfering with their laws. The states want a federal court to overturn the part of Colorado’s law that allows cultivation and sale of retail pot.

Possession and use would remain legal, in other words, but it would be illegal to grow or sell marijuana. The suit is a genuine threat, but hopefully no judge would be willing to let one state dictate the drug policies of another.

About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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