Cannabis use and health-related ‘harm-to-others’: Towards a conceptual framework and evidence-base for public health

doi: 10.15288/jsad.22-00388.

Online ahead of print.


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Benedikt Fischer et al.

J Stud Alcohol Drugs.



Cannabis use is common while subject to increasingly liberal controls, including legalization, to protect users’ health. Little attention has been given to possible health-related ‘harm-to-others’, as are considered in other substance use domains. We propose a framework and review evidence on public health domains in which cannabis use may produce health-related harm-to-others, namely from: 1) inter-personal violence; 2) motor-vehicle-crash (MVC)-related injuries; 3) pregnancy-related outcomes; and 4) second-hand exposure. These domains are associated with moderate risks of adverse outcomes that may involve substantial health harm-to-others, and therefore warrant consideration in evaluating the public health impacts of cannabis use and different policy options for its control.


Cannabis; burden-of-disease; harm; harm-to-others; interventions; legalization; monitoring; policy; public health.

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