Georgetown University — Public Health and Cannabis Legalization

Georgetown University
Award Date:
To support research on regulations aimed at optimizing the public health impact of cannabis legalization.

The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $250,000 to Georgetown University to support a joint project between the O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law at Georgetown and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) to research regulations aimed at optimizing the public health impact of cannabis legalization.

Cannabis legalization efforts are proceeding quickly, and we expect some form of legalization for recreational and/or medicinal purposes to occur in many more states and countries in the coming years. Our tentative guess is that effective regulation of legal recreational and medical cannabis could maximize related public health gains and prevent significant public health harms and costs that might come about in ineffectively regulated commercial markets.

Based on these considerations, the Open Philanthropy Project asked Graham Boyd, a consultant who previously worked as an advisor on cannabis policy issues to the late philanthropist Peter Lewis, to seek out opportunities to mitigate potential negative public health consequences (and maximize potential public health benefits) of recreational cannabis legalization efforts. Boyd worked with the O’Neill Institute and WOLA to develop a proposal for this project.

The basic plan for the project is to consult with leading public health experts and key individuals involved in cannabis legalization initiatives to develop and disseminate a stronger understanding of what sorts of regulations might minimize adverse public health impacts and maximize public health gains from legalization and how those might be incorporated into legalization efforts.

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