Natural Experiments in a Complex and Dynamic Environment

The Need for a Measured Assessment of the Evidence

Published in: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, v. 33, no. 1, Winter 2014, p. 232-235

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Eric Sevigny

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The shift from punitive prohibition to legalizing marijuana at the state (or federal) level may produce a net social benefit. However the available evidence suggests we should be cautious in making definitive claims of either net benefits or net costs given the current state of the science. We need a better understanding of the long-term effects of marijuana use on health and mental health, the role of potency and other cannabinoids in influencing health and safety outcomes, the impact of regulated and unregulated markets on prices and youth consumption, and the impact of legalization on the consumption of related goods (alcohol and prescription drugs).

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