The legalization of medical and recreational cannabis use has occurred ahead of science. The current evidence base has poor utility for determining if cannabis products can meet the standards of safety, efficacy, and quality intrinsic to modern medicine, and for informing regulation of cannabis as a legal intoxicant. Individual jurisdictions that pass cannabis reforms may not have adequate resources to support the level of new scientific research needed to inform regulatory actions; this could make it difficult to keep a rapidly growing multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry in check. Further, the present lack of evidence-based regulatory oversight for cannabis parallels the climates that gave rise to the tobacco and prescription opioid epidemics, suggesting that continued omission may result in negative public health consequences. However, translating a methodological framework developed through research on these compounds may promote rapid advances in cannabis science germane to regulatory knowledge gaps. The present review highlights specific advancements in these areas, as well as in alcohol regulation, that are prime for informing policy-relevant cannabis science, and also offers some recommendations for evidence-based regulatory policy. Resulting progress may directly inform both regulation of cannabis in both medical and licit recreational drug frameworks, and new cannabis-related public health initiatives.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health