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Will cannabis progress continue? We think so!

The past year has been the biggest year for cannabis in American history. From start to finish 2016 was packed with cannabis moments that were truly inspirational.

As 2016 draws to a close, it's logical to start looking forward to what 2017 may have in store for the world of cannabis.

2017 is not an election year for most areas, with only some special elections being held in a few states. But that is not to say there won't be a lot of political activity related to cannabis, because there absolutely will be.

Campaigns aiming for the 2018 mid-term election are already working hard in states like Michigan, while state and local governments are going to be very active in 2017...

It is necessary for cannabis consumers to be aware of what is going on in the cannabis world now more than ever to ensure that recent freedoms aren't rolled back due to an uninformed populace.

Below are some important things that Green Flower Media will be keeping an eye on in 2017:

#1) Two new states legalizing for adult use

Nevada and Maine voters approved adult-use cannabis legalization initiatives on November 8, 2016 but those initiatives won't take effect in 2016.

Cannabis legalization will take effect in Nevada on January 1, 2017. Legalization will take effect in Maine 30 days after Maine's Governor issues a proclamation approving the election results. It's worth noting that Maine's Governor is an opponent of cannabis reform, so an exact date is difficult to determine at this time.

But regardless of what Maine's Governor tries to do to delay legalization, the fact remains that 2017 will see 2 more states experience the freedom that legalization brings.

#2) Will a state legalize via legislative action?

So far, every state that has legalized cannabis has done so via a citizen initiative. A citizen initiative involves gathering signatures, meeting a valid signature total goal, and placing legalization on the ballot.

That's the process that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C., California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts followed to succeed at legalizing cannabis.

But there has yet to be a state to do it via legislative action. I personally believe that we will see it happen for the first time in 2017, with Northeastern states like Rhode Island and Delaware being the most likely.

#3) Increase in federal interference

Some members of the cannabis community are optimistic about what a Republican takeover of the federal government will mean for cannabis policy. I am not one of those optimistic people.

I am with everyone else in that I want to see the federal government step out of the way and allow states to pursue a sensible approach to cannabis policy.

However, a lot of long time drug war warriors have been appointed to very powerful political posts and I can't fathom a scenario in which they will behave favorably toward cannabis rights. I would absolutely love to be wrong, but it's better for people to hear the truth and be proactive than to put our heads in the sand and hope for the best.

Make no mistake - people like Jeff Sessions being in charge of federal cannabis enforcement is going to be a very formidable roadblock that will likely be a constant thorn in the cannabis community's side in the upcoming year.

#4) Increase in cannabis research

Cannabis policy at the federal level remains a dubious situation, but 2017 is shaping up to be very bright for cannabis research.

More cannabis research projects are going to be underway in 2017 than ever before, with cannabis research funding and interest at an all time high (no pun intended).

Many of the research projects will not publish any results for some time, but the addition to the body of knowledge around the cannabis plant will be a tremendous boon as we continue to learn more.

A lot of hurdles and barriers to research still exist, but whereas public research is tremendously hindered, private sector research will really be picking up the slack in 2017.

#5) Cannabis decriminalization will continue to spread across America

I am a lifelong Oregonian, and one thing that we are very proud of here in Oregon is that we were the first state to decriminalize cannabis.

Since Oregon decriminalized in the 1970's, many municipalities and even some states have followed suit. Decriminalization is not as good as legalization obviously, but it's certainly better than prohibition.

Cannabis decriminalization is much more palatable for elected officials to stomach, and therefore is much easier to achieve than legalization. It's not the best public policy, but it's a great step in the right direction.

More and more governments are realizing that no one should be put in a cage for cannabis, and are instead moving towards issuing people citations rather than arresting them. I think we will see a lot of governments move to decriminalize cannabis in 2017.

#6) International victories

America's federal government may not be favorable to cannabis reform in the upcoming year, but cannabis reform is looking very bright in some parts of the world looking forward.

Next year is supposed to be the year that Canada legalizes cannabis for adult use. Mexico is likely to legalize medical cannabis in 2017, with the Senate recently passing a medical cannabis bill.

2017 is going to be the biggest year ever for cannabis in Germany and other parts of Europe.

That's not to say that all parts of the world will be moving forward with cannabis reform. Atrocities are being committed in the Philippines right now in the name of prohibition, which will hopefully be addressed as soon as possible and is a situation absolutely worth monitoring.