Start Rolling Your Blunts: 2016 Was A Very Good Year for Weed

This year had one redeeming quality.
December 26, 2016, 5:00pm
Image: MartinAlonso/Flickr

1. Weed won!

Let's be real, weed won the election. California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine voted to legalize adult use marijuana, while Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana legalized medical marijuana. Only in Arizona, the ninth state considering legalization, did the initiative fail.

2. Weed enhances cognition.

An ongoing study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that cannabis helps with cognitive performance, as in the way we acquire and process knowledge. The researchers tracked 24 medical marijuana patients over three months and measured their cognitive abilities through certain mental challenges and tests.

3. Your cells get high.

Okay, sure that's a given: If you're getting high at all, at the most basic level it's because the chemicals in cannabis are acting on endocannabinoid receptor cells throughout your brain and body. But in a new study, researchers discovered the structure of the CB1 cell receptors that actually bind to the THC from inhaled or ingested cannabis.

4. Cannabis to treat cervical cancer?

A study from North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, used in vitro or test tube/petri dish analysis to find that the anticarcinogenic properties in CBD could act on cervical cancer cells, inhibiting their growth or causing them to kill themselves. In a good way.

5. Weed arrests are at a 20 year low.

According to new stats released in September by the FBI, marijuana-related arrests are the lowest they've been in two decades. The data looked at 2015, in which there were 574,641 arrests for marijuana possession. Possession arrests have not been that low since 1996. Meanwhile, however, though arrest rates dropped, someone still gets busted for weed just a little more than once a minute.

A man at the Cannabis Cup USA. Image: Christine Jump/Flickr

6. More people smoke weed and fewer people think that's a bad thing.

According to a study that came out in August, cannabis use increased from 10.4 percent in 2002 to 13.3 percent in 2014. Moreover, out of the 500,000 people the study looked at, it turns out that with increased use came decreased perception of risk: at the end of hte study, only 33.3 of the subjects believed that smoking weed once or twice a week was bad, as compared to 50.4 percent at the beginning of the study.

7. The most potent weed oil got made this year.

Denver's Organa Labs, the world's largest cannabis oil producer, announced the release of Bakked distillates in October. Thee product line includes cannabis oils with up to 97 percent activated THC—that's the most potent cannabis oil ever.

8. Researchers see atomic-level weed receptors in the brain.

For the first time, researchers have been able to create a 3D image of the brain's CB1 receptor, which is responsible for cannabinoids' psychoactive effects. The image can provide information as to how cannabis works in the brain and why THC compounds might be harmful. To create the 3D image, the researchers produced a crystallized version of CB1 in order to get enough information about its structure to produce a high-resolution 3D image.

9. We're getting closer to a weed breathalyzer.

CAlifornia police officers collaborated with Hound Labs, which developed a breathalyzer to detect THC levels, to pull over erratic drivers and ask them to voluntarily blow into the device. (Since this was only for testing purposes, the drivers didn't face arrest, unless they were drunk.) While other weed breathalyzers merely detect the presence of THC, the Hound Labs device detects THC levels in parts per trillion, which is more precise than before. Now, researchers and policymakers need to come up with standards, beyond a breathalyzer reading, for what actually constitutes impairment, versus under the influence.

10. Criminal records for weed in California can get expunged.

Under part of Prop 64, the California initiative that legalized marijuana, judges can resentence those who have been convicted of marijuana-related crimes or destroy records with prior marijuana convictions. Moreover, the initiative reduces several felonies to misdemeanors and misdemeanors to infractions. Already, many court cases have been dropped and people released from jail on account of the new law.

Doobie doobie do, indeed.

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