Regulating Cannabis for Public Health

Congress is moving toward federal legalization of cannabis, triggering important considerations for policymakers on issues of health, safety and equity. At present 18 states have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use and 37 states have approved its use for medical purposes. But lacking federal approval–including no guidance from the FDA–a patchwork of state regulations has grown up that leaves the health of U.S. consumers in peril. An example of a more inclusive approach can be found across the border, where Canada fully legalized cannabis in 2018 and regulates production, distribution and consumption similarly to alcohol.  

Join the USC Schaeffer Center and the Institute for Addiction Science for a conversation about the challenges of regulating cannabis. Schaeffer Center Senior Fellow Rosalie Liccardo Pacula will moderate the conversation with Rebecca Jesseman, director of policy at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, and Ricky N. Bluthenthal, associate dean for social justice and professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Event Date
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
11:15 AM - 12:00 PM Pacific

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, PhD, (Moderator) holds the Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics & Law and Professor of Health Policy and Management in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. She was previously a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, served as director of RAND's BING Center for Health Economics and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. Pacula’s research over the last 20 years has largely focused on issues related to illegal or imperfect markets (healthcare markets, insurance markets, illicit drug markets), measurement of the size of these markets, the impact they have on behavior (suppliers and consumers), and the effectiveness of policy interventions targeting behavior within these markets.  More recently her work has focused on proper measurement and evaluation of opioid and cannabis policies in terms of their impacts on use, misuse and health. In work undertaken by the NIH P50 Opioid Policy Center that she co-Directs, Pacula is exploring policies influencing the diffusion of buprenorphine and naloxone, as well as the impact of OxyContin reformulation, insurance expansion, medical marijuana, prescription drug monitoring programs, and other supply restrictions. She is president of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP), a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and serves on the editorial board of several journals. She received her PhD in economics from Duke University.

Rebecca Jesseman, MA, is the Director of Policy at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), a national non-governmental organization with a legislated mandate to provide leadership and solutions to address alcohol- and other drug-related harms. During her 15 years with CCSA, Rebecca has provided trusted counsel and expert commentary and presentations for all levels of government in Canada, and to law enforcement, educators, academia, service providers, and international policymakers. Rebecca’s areas of expertise include cannabis regulation, alternatives to the criminalization of drug use, and treatment system reform.

Ricky N. Bluthenthal, PhD, is the Associate Dean for Social Justice and a Professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.  Since 1991, he has conducted community-partnered research on risk behaviors and health promotion among people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men, and other disadvantaged populations. His current studies include an observational cohort study on the substitution of cannabis for opioids among PWID, an evaluation of the Hollywood LEAD program, and qualitative, life histories of opioid use among substance using men who have sex with men.