A new report from UC San Francisco warns policy makers in California, a state currently looking at legalization of recreational cannabis, that a new cannabis industry could easily become similar to tobacco.
The report’s authors, Rachel Barry and Stanton Glantz, wrote that legalization of cannabis, which has largely lost the stigma surrounding it despite still being illegal, needs to be tightly controlled to prevent the industry from dictating future issues.
“Evidence from tobacco and alcohol control demonstrates that without a strong public health framework, a wealthy and politically powerful marijuana industry will develop and use its political clout to manipulate regulatory frameworks and thwart public health efforts to reduce use and profits,” the researchers wrote.
The report suggests that unless cannabis is regulated like tobacco, years of work minimizing the amount of smokers will be reversed.
“The goal of any marijuana regulatory framework should be to treat marijuana regulation like tobacco regulation, allowing sale and use to be legal, while simultaneously creating an environment where falling numbers of people are interested in buying and using it,” the report read.
The researchers also suggested that as cannabis use becomes more widespread, the health risks associated with it will become more detailed.
“Despite emerging scientific evidence on the adverse health risks of marijuana smoke, many people think that marijuana smoke is less toxic than tobacco smoke,” read the report. “Marijuana smoke contains chemicals (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, cyanide, benzene) known to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity, many of which are also in tobacco smoke.”
“Indeed, except for the psychoactive ingredient — THC versus nicotine — marijuana smoke is similar to tobacco smoke”