A multi-source investigation of issues arising from the implementation and evolution of a commercial, non-medical marijuana market in Colorado

September 2016

Todd Subritzky, Chief Investigator; Professor Simon Lenton, Co-investigator

Other investigators: 

Professor Simone Pettigrew, School of Psychology, Curtin University

Project description: 

For several decades the cultivation, sale and use of recreational cannabis has been prohibited by law in most countries. Recently however under ballot initiatives, four states in the US have legalised commercial, non-medical marijuana markets. Several other states will initiate similar ballot measures attached to the 2016 election that will also appoint a new President. In addition, more than 20 states now allow medical marijuana to treat a range of ailments. Other countries, notably Canada, may soon legalise a recreational cannabis market in some form, while in Australia a bill allowing the development of medicines from marijuana has recently passed into law. Uruguay is awaiting full implementation after passing a state run model for legal recreational cannabis into law over a year ago.

As the first jurisdiction to implement “seed to sale” legislation for recreational use in 2014, Colorado is an important model to begin investigating early consequences of specific policy choices as the evidence base starts to accrue and other jurisdictions consider their own legislation. In an environment where things are changing rapidly and scientific evidence on the impact of the changes is only starting to emerge, this study aims to identify and explore a range of related issues through review of regulations, analysis of mass and niche media coverage, and interviews with associated stakeholders from industry, public health and policy makers.