Executive Summary of this Case Study Report
Full report coming soon!
This report explores the experiences of several states as they regulated nonmedical adult cannabis use through the lens of a public health perspective. The report includes four state case studies developed through research and process participant interviews, including those considered early adopters of nonmedical cannabis use as well as more recently adopting states. Challenges and lessons learned include issues surrounding the role and protection of public health, data collection and monitoring, industry and public engagement, education and social equity.
Current State of Cannabis Legalization
Cannabis contains more than 100 compounds or cannabinoids, some of which produce a psychoactive effect or “high,” like tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). Other compounds include cannabidiol (CBD), which is not intoxicating. Cannabis containing over 0.3% delta-9 THC and products derived from it remain categorized as Schedule I under the federal Controlled Substances Act, with “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
States began regulating cannabis for medical use in 1996 and for nonmedical adult use in 2012. During the expansion of states regulating medical cannabis from 2014 to 2017, over a dozen states without medical cannabis allowed for low-THC or CBD-only products for people with specific health conditions.
As of July 2022, 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have approved cannabis for medical use. Nineteen states, two territories and the District of Columbia allow for the nonmedical use of cannabis by adults over age 21. Thirteen states enacted via ballot measure and five state legislatures took nonmedical measures into their own hands.