Implications of Cannabis Legalization on Substance-Related Benefits and Harms for People Who Use Opioids: A Canadian Perspective

doi: 10.1089/can.2023.0031.

Online ahead of print.


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Anees Bahji et al.

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res.



In 2018, Canada enacted the Cannabis Act, becoming only the second country (after Uruguay) to legalize the recreational consumption of cannabis. Although there is ongoing global disagreement on the risk-benefit profile of cannabis with increasing legalization in many parts of the world, the evidence of rising cannabis use prevalence postlegalization has been consistent. In contrast, postlegalization changes in various cannabis-related metrics have been inconsistent in Canada and other parts of the world. Furthermore, the implications of cannabis legalization on substance-related harms and benefits for people who use unregulated drugs, particularly opioids, remain unclear. Finally, although Canada did not legalize cannabis to address the opioid crisis, there is rising scientific and popular interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis to mitigate opioid-related harms. This perspective highlights the implications of cannabis legalization on substance-related benefits and harms for people who use opioids, the current state of Canadian research, and suggestions for future directions.


Canada; legalization; policy.

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