A Public Health Approach to Regulating Commercially Legalized Cannabis

Policy Statement from the American Public Health Association (APHA):
As of January 2020, 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands had legalized medical use of cannabis/marijuana, and 11 of those jurisdictions had legalized nonmedical adult use, typically in commercial and retail marketplaces. The federal government has not challenged laws legalizing commercial cannabis as long as states maintain strict rules regarding sales and distribution. Given the dearth of national cannabis policy research, this policy statement calls for an evidence-based public health approach to regulating and controlling the legal commerce of cannabis products that is similar in some aspects to the long established and validated framework used for tobacco and alcohol control focused on such strategies as taxation on products and regulation of advertising and marketing. Health equity and social justice are critical components of cannabis legalization. Historically, rates of cannabis-related arrests and incarcerations have been higher among Black and Latino individuals than White individuals, despite cannabis use rates being similar by race/ethnicity. Encounters with the criminal justice system negatively affect health outcomes among individuals and within communities. Racial disparities in cannabis-related criminal justice encounters are rooted in public policy. A public policy approach to ameliorating these harms is warranted. Decriminalization and implementation of public health regulatory and enforcement structures must be supported by current evidence and best practices and must keep health equity and social justice at the forefront of public health policy and enforcement efforts. This policy statement is primarily focused on regulation of “commercial adult use markets” at the state level.

To read the full statement from the APHA, click here: https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2021/01/13/a-public-health-approach-to-regulating-commercially-legalized-cannabis

For more information on the International Academy on the Science and Impact of Cannabis, and to join, please visit www.IASIC1.org.

Visit the IASIC Library here (https://iasic1.org/library/). The IASIC Library is intended as a user-friendly reference of the published medical literature.

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