Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Legalization

Published in: Annual Review of Clinical Psychology , Volume 13  (May 2017), pages 397-419. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032816-045128

Posted on RAND.org on May 31, 2017

by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Rosanna Smart

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State-level marijuana liberalization policies have been evolving for the past five decades, and yet the overall scientific evidence of the impact of these policies is widely believed to be inconclusive. In this review we summarize some of the key limitations of the studies evaluating the effects of decriminalization and medical marijuana laws on marijuana use, highlighting their inconsistencies in terms of the heterogeneity of policies, the timing of the evaluations, and the measures of use being considered. We suggest that the heterogeneity in the responsiveness of different populations to particular laws is important for interpreting the mixed findings from the literature, and we highlight the limitations of the existing literature in providing clear insights into the probable effects of marijuana legalization.

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