Examining the impact of decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis for recreational use

The McMaster Health Forum recently released a rapid synthesis examining the impact of decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis for recreational use. With the potential for large policy changes in Canada regarding the use of cannabis, it is timely to take stock of what is known about this issue.

In 2013, despite having been prohibited since the 1920s, Canada had the highest rate of marijuana use among youth for all developed nations. In efforts to better control who has access, who is distributing and who is benefiting from the sale of cannabis, the approach in some jurisdictions to regulating its use is to shift away from a prohibitive approach towards decriminalization or legalization. 

There have been numerous systematic reviews and studies on both the positive and negative health effects of cannabis use, which we summarized in a previous rapid synthesis. In this rapid response requested by, and conducted in collaboration with the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research/Michael G. DeGroote Initiative for Innovation in Healthcare, we sought to identify research evidence on the epidemiological and societal consequences as a result of decriminalization or legalization of cannabis.

Read the full rapid synthesis.