Regulating cannabis : a comparative perspective on policy rollouts and unintended consequences in The United States and Canada (lessons from 6 case studies)
Cannabis legalization has undergone quite dynamic developments in North America in the last 10 years. Subsequently, the range of cannabis regulation policy options has dramatically widened, determining how far legalization challenges the illicit market, how much health-related consequences are under scope and how much tax revenue benefits to governments (at country, State/province or municipality level). This presentation focuses on the early findings of a study, called ASTRACAN (For A STRAtegic analysis of regulatory CANnabis policies), carried out by the French monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction (OFDT) in partnership with the University of Quebec in Montreal and the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, comparing the regulatory frameworks and outcomes reported across 3 US and 3 Canadian jurisdictions where non-medical cannabis use has been legalized (Washington State, Oregon and California in the US, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in Canada).
Drawing on qualitative data collected from 6 case jurisdictions (80 semi-structured interviews, conducted in 2021-2022 with regulatory authorities, public health and law enforcement officials, experts, etc. ; direct observations ; policy documents), completed with quantitative official data, the paper explores the diversity of regulatory models for cannabis, ranging from the early US approach willing to ´regulate marijuana like alcohol’ to the most recent regulatory schemes developed across Canadian provinces, paying increased attention to public health impacts.
Our preliminary research results highlight the common features and disparities in the implementation issues, the outcomes and the unintended consequences reported across jurisdictions. They stress the differential areas of public concern, in terms of economic challenges (taxes and adequate pricing, revenue allocation), regulatory rules (marketplace characteristics, packaging and labeling rules, etc.), access to the legal cannabis market and related problems (social equity outcomes, socioeconomic segmentation of users within legal and remaining illegal cannabis markets, environment issues, etc.) and health and safety concerns.