Personal freedoms and equality reigned as dominant themes in 2014, though we didn’t exactly kick the year off with a bang. Left in the uncertain wake of a buggy Obamacare rollout, Americans entered 2014 with little confidence that personal health would get much attention. But attention it got.

On New Year’s Day, the first legal marijuana dispensaries officially opened in Colorado. In the months that followed, people held the state under a microscope, probing and prodding to see how the model was faring and coming to broad conclusions about weed’s medicinal properties. Alongside, scientists, doctors, activists, teachers, and a concerned public were met with a raft of other issues, including dietary restrictions, technological dangers, parenting dilemmas, weight loss goals, and hygiene habits.

Some of these issues forced us to come to the debate with hardline opinions, while others were more apt to leave us deep in thought. At the very least, they got us thinking about the larger issues that affect not only our own well-beings, but hundreds of millions more.