The Top 10 Cannabis Stories of 2022 That Might Shock, Suprise or Impress You

We’re recapping 2022 by covering the top 10 cannabis stories of last year.

Written by

Mell Green

Mell is a cannabis connoisseur who has been published in nearly 50 online publications surrounding cannabis, including Cannabis Industry Association, Analytical Cannabis, Terpenes and Testing Magazine, Plant People, Byrdie, and...

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2022 brought a lot of change within the cannabis industry. From major federal changes to several states legalizing weed, there was so much to keep track of. So, we don’t blame you if there were a few stories that you may have missed. 

To get you caught up on the world of weed, here are the top 10 biggest cannabis stories of 2022 you should be familiar with. 

10. Missouri and Maryland Legalize Recreational Marijuana in November Election

November 2022 brought an election season unlike any other. Last year, five states were up for cannabis legalization: Missouri, Maryland, Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota. 

While Arkansas, South, and North Dakota did not see the cannabis legalization outcomes most residents were hoping for, people living in Missouri and Maryland were overjoyed to learn that their votes won: MO and MD finally legalized recreational cannabis after being medical for various years. 

While neither Missouri’s Amendement 3 nor Maryland’s Question 4 have gone into effect in the states just yet, these decisions were landmark for residents who couldn’t access MMJ. 

9. Rhode Island Makes Medical Marijuana Cards Free for Patients 

Most states in the US require that medical patients pay a flat state fee in order to get their medical marijuana cards. This state fee can vary from low to high depending on where you live, but you can almost always expect to pay something. Well, not in Rhode Island. 

In 2022, Rhode Island decided to remove the state fee for medical cards, making them free for patients. Now, the only thing that medical marijuana patients have to pay is the fee associated with their doctor’s appointments for recommendations. This was a huge win for MMJ patients in the Ocean State. 

8. Mississippi Legalizes Medical Cannabis in February of 2022

Though it took several years and multiple rounds of legislation and amendments, Mississippi finally saw the start of medical marijuana in the state starting in February of 2022.

Mississippi actually voted to legalize medical cannabis all the way back in 2020. However, the decision was revoked about six months later (with politicians saying the state’s initiative process was “outdated”), and residents were left without any access to MMJ — or any clue as to when they’d get it. 

Flash forward to February 2022 when the final version of Senate Bill 2095 was approved. Now, patients are finally allowed to purchase a few ounces of cannabis a month, and sales are officially underway. 

7. California Protects Cannabis-Enjoying Employees with New Bill

In the fall of 2022, California announced the passing of a law designed to protect employees that consumed cannabis in their free time. This means that if an applicant for a job — or an employee who is already a part of the team — fails a drug test because of THC metabolites in the system, they cannot be penalized.

However, this bill didn’t come without caveats. It states, “Its provisions also exclude occupations that are required by federal or state laws to be tested for controlled substances. That may include, for example, truck drivers who are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Keep in mind that, while this bill passed in 2022, it will not go into effect until 2024. 

6. Illinois, New Mexico, Michigan, and More Hit Record Numbers in Cannabis Sales  

Last year not only brought a lot of change in the cannabis industry but also brought some serious sales. In 2022, many states saw record numbers in cannabis sales, hitting higher points of revenue than ever before — and ever imagined. 

States like Illinois, New Mexico, and Michigan saw millions of dollars in revenue. NM had their biggest month ever in December at $28 million just in recreational sales, Illinois hit a total of $1.55 billion over the course of 2022, and Michigan’s sales increased nearly 30% from 2021, reaching $2.3 billion by the end of the year. That’s a lot of dough solely coming from the cannabis industry. 

5. Cannabis Tourism Brings $17 Billion to US Economy 

Cannabis tourism is quickly becoming a huge contributor to the US tourism economy as a whole. A 2022 study found that cannabis tourism brought at least $17 billion to the US economy, and the numbers are only expected to grow more over the years — especially as the COVID pandemic comes to a close (or, at least as much as it can). 

As the industry flourishes and more states legalize cannabis, more attractions are popping up that are bringing people from all over the world to experience weed in a whole new way. Whether it’s a cannabis-friendly hotel, weed-themed restaurant, or even full-fledged bud and breakfast, the cannabis tourism industry is one that’s likely going to absolutely explode as the years go on, and 2022 was a great indication of that. 

4. P. Diddy Acquires Cresco Labs

In late 2022, the news was released that Sean Combs, otherwise known as P. Diddy, was acquiring the one and only Cresco Labs, as well as Columbia Care Inc. Cresco Labs is one of the most prominent medical marijuana growers, processors, and retailers in the US, and it’s now become the largest Black-owned cannabis business in the country — thanks to P. Diddy. 

Diddy also plans on purchasing several cannabis businesses across the country in hopes of launching “the country’s first minority-owned and operated, vertically integrated multistate operator.” This news was huge for BIPOC in the cannabis industry, especially one where over 70% of all businesses are run by white American men.

In 2023, we cannot wait to see what Diddy has in store for Cresco Labs. 

3. New York Cannabis Sales Finally Begin After Months of Waiting 

Back in March of 2021, New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo passed a bill that legalized recreational cannabis in the state. However, it wasn’t until December of 2022 that residents of the Big Apple were finally allowed to start legally purchasing recreational weed. 

The first cannabis sales happened at a dispensary called Housing Works Cannabis Co., which is a non-profit that supports formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, as well as those who are houseless or living with HIV/AIDS. The very first purchase, which happened at a very appropriate 4:20, was by Chris Alexander: the Executive Director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management.

Recreational sales rolling out in New York was fundamental for various reasons, but the social equity program that the state has implemented is something that every state should study and follow suit, and we can only hope we see more of this in 2023. 

2. Brittney Griner Arrested for Cannabis Possession in Russia 

Perhaps one of the biggest cannabis-related stories to come out of 2022 was the frustrating tale of Brittney Griner. Griner is a WNBA star that ended up getting arrested and detained in a Russian airport in February 2022 after possessing a cannabis vape cartridge. The news broke in early March, and people were quickly working to get the basketball player out of Russian prison. 

Unfortunately, Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison after being put on trial, outraging the entire country. 

After months of struggle and debate, the Biden administration ended up working out a prisoner swap for Griner, releasing her for a Russian prisoner at the beginning of December. Still, this story greatly put cannabis legalization in perspective, illustrating the strict juxtaposition that some places still have regarding the legalities of the plant. Regardless, the entire community can breathe a sigh of relief now that Griner is finally home after such a tumultuous year abroad. 

1. Joe Biden Pardons Federal Offenses for Simple Cannabis Crimes

Finally, we can’t talk about the biggest cannabis stories of 2022 without mentioning Biden’s statement on the plant on October 6th, 2022.

In the early fall, the President put out a statement revealing that he was pardoning federal offenses for those who have committed simple cannabis crimes. He also urged governors to do the same at a state level — especially because there are so few low-level federal cannabis arrests. Still, President Biden also urged for a reclassification of cannabis, arguing that its scheduled class is no longer appropriate. This changing of scheduling could pave the way for more comprehensive, long-term, large-scale cannabis studies that would further the industry in ways that it has long been prevented from doing. 

Though we haven’t seen significant change come from this choice just yet, it’s the start of something bigger on a federal level, and that’s something that the cannabis industry desperately needs. 

Keeping Up With Cannabis in the News 

In the world of weed, cannabis changes and evolves every day. The industry is ever-growing, progressing, and advancing, making it somewhat difficult to stay up-to-date with cannabis news sometimes. However, by subscribing to major cannabis newsletters and following educated influencers, you’ll always be able to stay in the know — especially when we’re here to give you occasional updates, too. 

We’re looking forward to seeing what major cannabis stories 2023 brings, and we cannot wait to share them with you.