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 This paper reviews the US experience to identify any potential lessons or hazards likely to emerge. It outlines the regulatory requirements of different US states for managing medicinal and recreational marijuana use, and the costs and benefits of these measures. It also critically analyses the most common commercial for-profit production and distribution model and examines the implications of this approach in terms of individual, social and criminological outcomes.

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The University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry Behavioral Neuroscience, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., MC3077, Chicago IL 60637, United States

Present address: The University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, 1601 W. Taylor St., MC912, Chicago, Illinois 60612



•We assessed effects of delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on responses to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in healthy volunteers.

•THC produced nonlinear dose effects upon emotional responses to the TSST.

•7.5 mg THC dampened negative emotional responses without influencing performance.

•12.5 mg THC slightly but significantly increased negative affect overall.

•12.5 mg THC impaired TSST performance and attenuated blood pressure responses.



Cannabis smokers often report that they use the drug to relax or to relieve emotional stress. However, few clinical studies have shown evidence of the stress-relieving effects of cannabis or cannabinoid agonists. In this study, we sought to assess the influence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a main active ingredient of cannabis, upon emotional responses to an acute psychosocial stressor among healthy young adults.


In comparison to placebo, 7.5 mg THC significantly reduced self-reported subjective distress after the TSST and attenuated post-task appraisals of the TSST as threatening and challenging. By contrast, 12.5 mg THC increased negative mood overall i.e., both before and throughout the tasks, and pre-task ratings of the TSST as threatening and challenging. It also impaired TSST performance and attenuated blood pressure reactivity to the stressor.


Our findings suggest that a low dose of THC produces subjective stress-relieving effects in line with those commonly reported among cannabis users, but that higher doses may non-specifically increase negative mood.

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Cannabis Harm Prevention Message a must...

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Cannabis harm prevention messages are essential, according to police in places where the drug has been decriminalised. Government, police and health agencies need clear guidelines for public campaigns on preventing harm from cannabis use, according to new research from Massey University. Front line police officers she interviewed in the Netherlands and states of Colorado and Oregon in the United States, where recreational cannabis use is not an offence, provided insights on how their communities responded with cannabis legally available.

They said that contrary to expectations, legalising the drug did not eliminate crime related to selling it, or gangs from continuing to profit from its sale.

All of her interviewees had cannabis law reform presented as a positive change for police, yet – as one officer said, "we just have not seen all the wonderful promises that were made to us."

Others observed cannabis was a gateway to harder drugs, and one officer expressed concern that the legal cannabis industry was attempting to target children to create a future market.

Front-line police officers she interviewed noted the following issues:

  • the enduring role organised crime plays in profiting from cannabis
  • inconsistent police policies are exploited, resulting in erosion of perceived police effectiveness
  • driving while cannabis-impaired is a largely unmitigated risk, which may be a significant factor in vehicle crashes
  • cannabis regularly misused by youth causes learning difficulties and leads to poor social outcomes
  • it is important, and sometimes difficult, to get harm-prevention messaging right

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