1st Edition

Legalizing Cannabis Experiences, Lessons and Scenarios

Edited By Tom Decorte, Simon Lenton, Chris Wilkins Copyright 2020
    484 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    484 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the world. Over the past couple of decades, several Western jurisdictions have seen reforms in, or changes to, the way cannabis use is being controlled, departing from traditional approaches of criminal prohibition that have dominated cannabis use control regimes for most of the twentieth century. While reform is stalled at the international level, the last decade has seen an acceleration of legislative and regulatory reforms at the local and national levels, with countries no longer willing to bear the human and financial costs of prohibitive policies. Furthermore, legalization models have been implemented in US states, Canada and Uruguay, and are being debated in a number of other countries. These models are providing the world with unique pilot programs from which to study and learn.

    This book assembles an international who’s who of cannabis scholars who bring together the best available evidence and expertise to address questions such as: How should we evaluate the models of cannabis legalization as they have been implemented in several jurisdictions in the past few years? Which scenarios for future cannabis legalization have been developed elsewhere, and how similar/different are they from the models already implemented? What lessons from the successes and failures experienced with the regulation of other psychoactive substances (such as alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and “legal highs”) can be translated to the effective regulation of cannabis markets?

    Legalizing Cannabis will appeal to anyone interested in public health policies and drug policy reform and offers relevant insights for stakeholders in any other country where academic, societal or political evaluations of current cannabis policies (and even broader: current drug policies) are a subject of debate.


    Tom Decorte, Simon Lenton and Chris Wilkins


    1. The uneven repeal of cannabis prohibition in the United States

    Bryce Pardo

    2. Practical lessons learned from the first years of the regulated recreational cannabis market in Colorado

    Todd Subritzky, Simon Lenton, Simone Pettigrew

    3. Recreational marijuana legalization in Washington State – benefits and harms

    Clayton Mosher, Scott Akins

    4. A century of cannabis control in Canada: A brief overview of history, context and policy frameworks from prohibition to legalization

    Benedikt Fischer, Cayley Russell, Neil Boyd

    5. Uruguay: the first country to legalize cannabis

    Rosario Queirolo


    6. Cannabis decriminalization policies across the globe

    Niamh Eastwood

    7. "More than just counting the plants" - different home cannabis cultivation policies, cannabis supply contexts and approaches to their evaluation

    Vendula Belackova, Katinka van de Ven, Michaela Roubalova (Stefunkova)

    8. City-level policies of regulating recreational cannabis in Europe. From pilot projects to "local customization"?

    Tom Blickman, Catherine Sandwell

    9. Lessons learned from the alcohol regulation perspective

    Tim Stockwell, Norman Giesbrecht, Adam Sherk, Gerald Thomas, Kate Vallance, Ashley Wettlaufer

    10. Lessons from tobacco regulation for cannabis product regulation

    Coral Gartner, Wayne Hall

    11. How not to legalize cannabis: lessons from New Zealand’s experiment with regulating "legal highs"

    Marta Rychert


    12. Coffeeshops in the Netherlands: regulating the front door and the back door

    Dirk J. Korf

    13. Cannabis social clubs in Spain: Recent legal developments

    Xabier Arana, Òscar Parés

    14. Swiss cannabis policies

    Simon Anderfuhren-Biget, Frank Zobel, Cédric Heeb, Jean-Félix Savary

    15. The Australian experience and opportunities for cannabis law reform

    Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes

    16. Cannabis policy reform: the Jamaica’s experience

    Vicki J. Hanson


    17. The risks of cannabis industry funding of community and drug treatment services – Insights from gambling

    Chris Wilkins, Marta Rychert

    18. Insights for the design of Cannabis Social Club regulation

    Tom Decorte, Mafalda Pardal


    Chris Wilkins, Simon Lenton, Tom Decorte


    Tom Decorte is Professor of Criminology and Director of the Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD) at Ghent University (Belgium). He is co-founder of the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium (GCCRC). His research interests include patterns of substance use, on the supply side of cannabis markets, and on the implementation of local drug monitoring systems. He has been advisor to a range of organizations on policies to improve public health relating to the use of drugs around the world.

    Simon Lenton is a Professor and Director of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, Australia, and works part time as a clinical psychologist. He has published widely on drugs, health and the law and provided advice to a range of government and private organizations on evidence-based drug policy and other drug issues.

    Chris Wilkins is Associate Professor and  is the leader of the drug research team at SHORE & Whāriki Research Centre, Massey University, New Zealand. He has researched drug trends, drug markets and drug policy change. Dr Wilkins has been an invited speaker at international meetings in Europe, the United States and Australia.

    "As more countries look to follow evidence-based policies on drug law reform, this book is a welcome addition to the literature on this subject. The "war on drugs" has been a failure. Policy-makers need to know what the alternatives to futile attempts to prohibit drugs are. This book draws on the work of international experts to explore such options." -Rt Hon Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

    "This is a comprehensive account of the diverse forms that cannabis legalization has taken in recent years, with a separate chapter telling the story and considering the lessons for each case, ranging from Uruguay to Spain to Canada, with US states, Jamaica, the Netherlands and other places in between. Other chapters consider lessons for cannabis control from regulation of alcohol and of tobacco, and from New Zealand’s attempts to regulate "legal highs". It’s a "must read" for anyone interested in drug policy: its histories are memorable, its interpretations thought-provoking. It’s worthwhile reading too for anyone interested in market regulation, in public health policy, or in law reform." - Prof. Robin Room, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University.

    "Professors Decorte, Lenton, and Wilkins have assembled a global all-star team of drug policy researchers for this excellent book. It’s a must read for those seeking new insights about the past, present, and future of cannabis legalization." - Dr. Beau Kilmer, coauthor of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know and director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center

    CHOICE, October 2021 Vol. 59 No. 2:

    "From 1964 through 1989 the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs predicted that non-medical use of cannabis ingredients would be eliminated throughout the world. This prediction never materialized. Instead, the marijuana market in the US alone was estimated at $2.3 billion in 2019 and was expected to reach $4.5 billion in 2020. The UN reported that approximately 250 million people use marijuana globally, making it the most widely used illicit drug in the world. This volume is thus a must-read to understand the legalization trends in other nations, what the nature of future cannabis legalization will be, and how regulation of other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol can inform the necessary regulation of marijuana markets. This book should appeal to public health enthusiasts with an interest in learning about the experiences, lessons, and scenarios of countries around the world that struggle to create public policy to address the rapidly growing international marijuana markets, which have been flourishing recently with the rise in medicinal marijuana use and the growth of recreational marijuana use. This reviewer strongly recommends this volume for anyone interested in understanding the growth of international drug markets." - P. J. Venturelli, Emeritus, Valparaiso University

    Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals.