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Int J Drug Policy. 2014 Jul;25(4):727-35. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.05.010. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Cannabis policy reforms in the Americas: a comparative analysis of Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay.

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Organization of American States (OAS), 1889 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20006, United States. Electronic address:


Legal reforms in the Americas are influencing the public debate on cannabis policy. Uruguay and the two US states of Colorado and Washington have taken steps to regulate and legitimize the production, distribution, and use of cannabis and its derivatives. Earlier experiences with medical cannabis in the United States and limited access and production models in Europe have been insightful. However, these reforms are going further still, venturing into a new area of cannabis policy. A lack of empirical evidence regarding the effects of such reforms poses a challenge for policymakers. These examples will inform the design and implementation of any future cannabis policies. Therefore, a clear understanding of the details of each jurisdiction is necessary in developing future legal changes. Literature comparing the models of Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington is thin. This paper is based on an exhaustive examination of the laws, regulations, and discussions with regulators and functionaries of each jurisdiction. The research and analysis herein will provide policymakers with a greater understanding of the laws and regulations relevant to legal cannabis in these three jurisdictions, as well as draw to their attention some potential impacts and challenges of cannabis reform that require additional consideration to ensure public safety and health.


Access to cannabis; Cannabis; International drug control; Policy; Regulation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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