Jurisdictions considering legalization of non-medical marijuana should implement a public health framework that prioritizes public health over business interests, according to Rachel Barry and Stanton Glantz of the University of California San Francisco, United States, in a Policy Forum article published in PLOS Medicine.

According to the authors, the history of major multinational corporations using aggressive marketing strategies to increase and sustain tobacco and alcohol use illustrates the risks of corporate influence in a legalized marijuana market. While US states that have legalized marijuana have modelled their policies on those for alcohol, the authors argue that marijuana should instead be treated like tobacco: legal but subject to a robust demand reduction program modelled on successful evidence-based tobacco control programs.

The authors conclude, "[i]t is important that jurisdictions worldwide learn from the US experience and implement, concurrently with full legalization, a public health framework for marijuana that minimizes consumption to maximize public health [...]. A key goal of the public health framework would be to make it harder for a new wealthy and powerful marijuana industry to manipulate the policy environment and thwart public health efforts to minimize use and associated health problems."

This work was supported in part by National Cancer Institute grant CA-061021 and UCSF funds from the Dr. Glantz' Truth Initiative Distinguished Professorship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Article: A Public Health Framework for Legalized Retail Marijuana Based on the US Experience: Avoiding a New Tobacco Industry, Barry RA, Glantz S, PLOS Medicine, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002131, published 27 September 2016.