JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes

R MacCoun, P Reuter
British Journal of Psychiatry 2001, 178: 123-8
11157425

BACKGROUND: Cannabis policy continues to be controversial in North America, Europe and Australia.

AIMS: To inform this debate, we examine alternative legal regimes for controlling cannabis availability and use.

METHOD: We review evidence on the effects of cannabis depenalisation in the USA, Australia and The Netherlands. We update and extend our previous (MacCoun & Reuter, 1997) empirical comparison of cannabis prevalence statistics in the USA, The Netherlands and other European nations.

RESULTS: The available evidence indicates that depenalisation of the possession of small quantities of cannabis does not increase cannabis prevalence. The Dutch experience suggests that commercial promotion and sales may significantly increase cannabis prevalence.

CONCLUSIONS: Alternatives to an aggressively enforced cannabis prohibition are feasible and merit serious consideration. A model of depenalised possession and personal cultivation has many of the advantages of outright legalisation with few of its risks.

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