A burning problem : cannabis lessons learned from Colorado, Jamie E. Parnes et al., 2018

A burning problem: cannabis lessons learned from Colorado

Jamie E. Parnes, Adrian J. Bravo, Bradley T. Conner and Matthew R. Pearson





With recent increases in cannabis’ popularity, including being legalized in several states, new issues have emerged related to use. Increases in the number of users, new products, and home growing all present distinct concerns. In the present review, we explored various cannabis-related concerns (i.e. use, acquiring, growing, and public health/policy) that have arisen in Colorado in order to provide information on emerging issues and future directions to mitigate negative outcomes that could occur in states considering, or that already have implemented, a legalized cannabis market. Specific to Colorado, issues have arisen related to edibles, vaporizers/’e-cannabis’, concentrates, growing, quantifying use, intoxicated driving, and arrests. Understanding cannabis dosing (including dose-dependent effects and related consequences), standardizing quantities, evaluating the safety of new products, and developing harm reduction interventions are important next steps for informing public policy and promoting health and well-being. Overall, increasing our knowledge of emerging issues related to cannabis is key to promoting the benefits and combating the potential harms of cannabis, especially for states legalizing medical or recreational cannabis.

KEYWORDS : Marijuana; public health; legalization; decriminalization


Over the past decade, cannabis has gained renewed popularity in the United States (Hasin et al. 2015). As recreational and medicinal legalization spread across the country (Pacula & Sevigny 2015), there has been an increase of users, with a legal industry forming to fill new market demands. In turn, cannabis products, such as edibles, high potency cannabis and concentrates (i.e. ‘dabs’, hash oil), electronic vaporizer pens (i.e. ‘e-cannabis’), and home growing supplies have become more widely available. Many issues regarding using, acquiring, and growing cannabis present potential public health concerns. In the present review, we explore various cannabis-related concerns (i.e. using, acquiring, growing, and
public health/policy) that have arisen in Colorado. Although there are several other issues related to legalization, concerns covered in this review were selected as they are of significant public health concern, have emerged as prominent issues following legalization (or legalization has exacerbated preexisting concerns), and have available information regarding their impact. Topics covered begin at the individual use level, expand to the acquisition level, and conclude with broader public health and policy concerns. Using Colorado as an example of the changes that can be expected following
legalization of recreational cannabis use, we consider the steps that can be taken to mitigate adverse outcomes that could likely occur in any state considering legalization (and potentially states that have already opened a legal cannabis market).