Facing the option for the legalisation of cannabis use and supply in New Zealand: An overview of relevant evidence, options and considerations.

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2020 May 20;:

Authors: Fischer B, Daldegan-Bueno D, Boden JM

ISSUES: Non-medical cannabis policies are changing, including towards legalisation-with-regulation frameworks. New Zealand will hold a public referendum on cannabis legalisation in 2020. We reviewed data on cannabis use and health/social harms; policy reform options; experiences with and outcomes of reforms elsewhere; and other relevant considerations towards informing policy choices in the upcoming referendum.
APPROACH: Relevant epidemiological, health, social, criminal justice and policy studies and data were identified and comprehensively reviewed.
KEY FINDINGS: Cannabis use is common (including in New Zealand) and associated with risks for health and social harms, mainly concentrated in young users; key harms are attributable to criminalisation. ‘Decriminalisation’ reforms have produced ambivalent results. Existing cannabis legalisation frameworks vary considerably in main parameters. Legalisation offers some distinct advantages, for example regulated use, products and user education, yet outcomes depend on essential regulation parameters, including commercialisation, and policy ecologies. While major changes in use are not observed, legalisation experiences are inconclusive to date, including mixed health and social outcomes, with select harms increasing and resilient illegal markets. It is unclear whether legalisation reduces cannabis exposure or social harms (e.g. from enforcement) for youth.
IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSIONS: No conclusive overall evidence on the outcomes of legalisation elsewhere exists, nor is evidence easily transferable to other settings. Legalisation offers direct social justice benefits for adults, yet overall public health impacts are uncertain. Legalisation may not categorically improve health or social outcomes for youth. Legalisation remains a well-intended, while experimental policy option towards more measured and sensible cannabis control and overall greater policy coherence, requiring close monitoring and possible adjustments depending on setting-specific outcomes.

PMID: 32436274 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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