Is cannabis use really so harmful?
Ali Palali, Jan van Ours 01 May 2014
There is a robust positive association between support for cannabis liberalisation and cannabis use, but it is unclear whether users have discovered that cannabis is innocuous, or if these types are inherently more liberal regarding drug policy. This column exploits variations in opinion between current and former cannabis users to work towards establishing causality. Results suggest that supporters of liberalisation are speaking from experience rather than personal interest.
Cannabis is prohibited in many countries. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2013) discusses several alternatives to prohibition, varying from decriminalisation to regulation and legalisation.
cannabis, regulation, Prohibition, drug policy, legalisation, decriminalisation
Easy access to cannabis is tempting
Jan van Ours, Ali Palali 12 October 2013
The decriminalisation of cannabis is a policy that divides policymakers sharply. This column uses evidence from the Netherlands to show a positive connection between early cannabis use and easy access to cannabis through coffeeshops. The policy implications, however, require further research. Closing coffeeshops could result in some potential users searching in the black market where hard drugs are available as well.
Although worries about cannabis are usually based on prevalence rates of cannabis use in the population, age of the first use of cannabis is important as well. Early onset age of cannabis may have serious short-term and long-term negative effects on individuals. Previous studies find that early cannabis use increases the intensity of use and the probability of subsequent drug use (Yamaguchi and Kandel 1984). Van Ours and Williams (2007) find using Australian data that individuals who start using cannabis early in life are less likely to quit at later ages.
Health economics Microeconomic regulation
cannabis, Netherlands, Prohibition, legalisation, drugs, decriminalisation