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Medical General

Cannabis Policy

Moving beyond stalemate

by (author) Robin Room, Benedikt Fischer, Wayne Hall, Simon Lenton & Peter Reuter

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2010
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2010
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Cannabis, marijuana, pot, ganja - it goes by many names - is by far the most widely used illegal substance, and accounts for more arrests than any other drug. Barely a week goes by without this drug appearing in the newpapers, and politicians have famously tied themselve in knots, trying to decide just how to deal with this recreational drug. While there have been many drug policy books on other substances - both legal and illegal, few have focused on this drug.

Cannabis Policy: Moving beyond Stalemate is unique in providing the materials needed for deciding on policy about cannabis in its various forms. It reviews the state of knowledge on the health and psychological effects of cannabis, and its dangerousness relative to other drugs. It considers patterns and trends in use, the size and character of illicit markets, and the administration of current policies, including arrests and diversion to treatment, under the global prohibition regime. It looks at the experience of a number of countries which have tried reforming their regimes and softening prohibition, exploring the kinds of changes or penalties for use for possession: including depenalization, decriminalization, medical control, and different types of legalization. It evaluates such changes and draws on them to assess the effects on levels and patterns of use, on the market, and on adverse consequences of prohibition. For policymakers willing to look outside the box of the global prohibition regime, the book examines the options and possibilities for a country or group of countries to bring about change in, or opt out of, the global control system.

Throughout, the book examines cannabis within a global frame, and provides in accessible form information which anyone considering reform will need in order to make decisions on cannabis policy (much of which is new or has not been readily available). This book will be essential for those involved in policymaking and be of interest to a wide range of readers interested in drugs and drug policy, as well as being an excellent supplementary text for university courses in criminology, policy science, social science, or public health.

About the authors

Robin Room's profile page

Benedikt Fischer's profile page

Wayne Hall is chief investigator and group leader of the Addiction Neuroethics Unit. He is an NHMRC Australia Fellow and Professorial Research Fellow at UQ Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland. He was formerly Professor of Public Health Policy in the School of Population Health, UQ (2005-2010), Director of the Office of Public Policy and Ethics at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, UQ (2001-2005) and Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW (1994-2001). He has advised the World Health Organization on: The Health Effects of Cannabis use; the effectiveness of drug substitution treatment; the scientific quality of the Swiss heroin trials; the contribution of illicit drug use to the global burden of disease; and the ethical implications of genetic and neuroscience research on addiction. In 2001 he was identified by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the world’s most highly cited social scientists in the past 20 years. He was awarded an NHMRC Australia Fellowship in 2009 to research the public health, social policy and ethical implications of genetic and neuroscience research on drug use and addiction. He was recently given a Visiting Professorship at the Institute of Psychiatry in London (Kings College, University of London) to do work in this field.

Wayne Hall's profile page

Simon Lenton's profile page

Peter Reuter's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Review from other book by this author: "This book is a joy to read. Throughout the text is clear and jargon-lite ... Overall, an essential addition to the library of any public health department or addiction service. Clinicians wanting a starting point for examining the evidence for various interventions will find it very useful, and we can but hope that policy maker take note."

--Health Matters

"The chapters effectively summarise and synthesise the current state of knowledge, and provide a tremendous resource for those interested in alcohol-related problems and their prevention... This book, prepared with support from WHO, builds directly on two similar volumes from previous decades. It will obviously be a central reference used by those specifically working on alcohol, but also makes key contributions to understanding and designing effective prevention policies and programmes for the full range of contemporary health problems."

--The Lancet

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