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Public Health Approaches to Marijuana Legalization

The Issue in Brief

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, in collaboration with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), has received a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to help develop guidelines on how states, countries, and other jurisdictions that opt to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can create regulatory frameworks, consistent with the goals of legalization, that will work effectively to protect and promote the public health.

In addition to looking at available research and the experience of those jurisdictions that have already legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, the organizations’ leaders say they will also draw from the public health community’s considerable experience relating to the regulation of other products, such as tobacco, alcohol and both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

The O’Neill-WOLA collaboration brings the public health aspects of cannabis legalization to the forefront and seeks to generate more participation in the issue from public health experts and organizations. WOLA has a long history in the field of drug policy reform with a particular focus on human rights protections. The O’Neill Institute brings great expertise and stature in the field of public health law and policy. Both organizations have broad access to scholars, practitioners, activists, and government officials.