Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States

Hall, Wayne and Lynskey, Michael (2016) Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States. Addiction, 111 10: 1764-1773. doi:10.1111/add.13428


Author Hall, Wayne
Lynskey, Michael
Title Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States
Journal name Addiction   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1360-0443
0965-2140
Publication date 2016-10-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1111/add.13428
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 111
Issue 10
Start page 1764
End page 1773
Total pages 10
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background and aims: Since 2012 four US states have legalized the retail sale of cannabis for recreational use by adults, and more are likely to follow. This report aimed to (1) briefly describe the regulatory regimes so far implemented; (2) outline their plausible effects on cannabis use and cannabis-related harm; and (3) suggest what research is needed to evaluate the public health impact of these policy changes.

Method: We reviewed the drug policy literature to identify: (1) plausible effects of legalizing adult recreational use on cannabis price and availability; (2) factors that may increase or limit these effects; (3) pointers from studies of the effects of legalizing medical cannabis use; and (4) indicators of cannabis use and cannabis-related harm that can be monitored to assess the effects of these policy changes.

Results: Legalization of recreational use will probably increase use in the long term, but the magnitude and timing of any increase is uncertain. It will be critical to monitor: cannabis use in household and high school surveys; cannabis sales; the number of cannabis plants legally produced; and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of cannabis. Indicators of cannabis-related harms that should be monitored include: car crash fatalities and injuries; emergency department presentations; presentations to addiction treatment services; and the prevalence of regular cannabis use among young people in mental health services and the criminal justice system.

Conclusions: Plausible effects of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States include substantially reducing the price of cannabis and increasing heavy use and some types of cannabis-related harm among existing users. In the longer term it may also increase the number of new users.
Keyword Colorado
Legalization
Marijuana
Medical marijuana laws
Non-medical use
Prospective monitoring
Regulation
Washington State
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 0 times in Scopus Article
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Sun, 27 Nov 2016, 10:22:20 EST by System User on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)