Public health implications of legalising the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use

Wayne Hall*, Daniel Stjepanović, Jonathan Caulkins, Michael Lynskey, Janni Leung, Gabrielle Campbell, Louisa Degenhardt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

225 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We assess the current and describe possible future public health impacts of the legalisation of cannabis production, sale, and use in the Americas. First, we describe global patterns of cannabis use and their most probable adverse health effects. Second, we summarise evidence regarding the effectiveness of cannabinoids for medicinal use and describe approaches that have been used to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis and how these approaches might have affected medicinal and recreational use and harms (eg, road crashes). Third, we describe how jurisdictions that have legalised recreational use have regulated production and sale of cannabis. Fourth, we evaluate the effects of cannabis legalisation on cannabis use and harms and on the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Fifth, we use alcohol and tobacco policy examples to identify possible long-term public health effects of cannabis legalisation. Finally, we outline policy approaches that could minimise harms to public health arising from the legalisation of a commercial cannabis industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1580-1590
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet
Volume394
Issue number10208
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2019

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