The national discussion on the legal status of marijuana has been a hot-button issue since Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use and retail manufacturing and sale of the substance in 2012. Since then, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. have also legalized cannabis use for adults, in addition to the 23 states and Washington, D.C. that have legalized cannabis for non-FDA-approved medicinal uses under state law. In light of these recent societal and political experiments surrounding the regulation of marijuana and with legalization ballot initiatives expected in several states in 2016, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) updated their policy statement on marijuana so that it speaks to the broad public health and safety aspects of such measures.
ASAM’s new Policy Statement on Marijuana, Cannabinoids and Legalization is the result of a months-long research and writing process that was spearheaded by Drs. Michael Miller, Norm Wetterau and Jeff Wilkins, and overseen by ASAM’s Public Policy Committee. This timely, new statement details the latest research on the health and public health effects of marijuana use, as well as the potential medicinal benefits of particular cannabinoids. It also discusses the political and social attitudes about marijuana that inform the current debate around legalization, and differentiates efforts to decriminalize marijuana use with efforts to legalize marijuana for commercial distribution and sale.