William Paterson University in New Jersey creates The Cannabis Institute to help lawmakers develop marijuana policies
An increasing number of countries have been rolling out recreational cannabis legalization ideas. However, there are still many significant issues in terms of the amount of time cannabis policy development takes. In many cases, the rules that are currently put in place are either failing or don’t make much sense.
Canada, last year, became the world’s second country to fully legalize marijuana. However, a healthy recreational cannabis policy is taking so much time to develop and implement, that smokers may soon realize their cannabis enjoyment is still blunted.
Other countries planning to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes should take note of Canada’s cannabis policy development and implementations issue. Australia should be one of those countries, as recreational cannabis legalization is a possibility in the near future.
Australia has the world’s highest users of recreational marijuana as a proportion of the total population. As per a report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW), tolerance for regular marijuana use among Australian adults rose from 9.8 percent in 2013 to 14.5 percent in 2016; also, 85 percent of Australians supported cannabis use for the medicinal purpose, rising from 69 percent in 2013. That increasing support led to the legalization of medical cannabis in 2016.
Recent and lifetime cannabis use, people aged 14 or older
Support for recreational cannabis legalization has seen similar increases over the years in Australia. If legal recreational cannabis becomes a reality, Australia will need to develop sensible regulations for ensuring public health and crime control.
Who can help Australia define its recreational cannabis policy after legalization?
Recently, a New Jersey college has formed The Cannabis Institute to advise local state officials on developing their cannabis policy.
Professors from a range of academic disciplines at William Paterson University (WPU) have formed the Cannabis Institute to guide New Jersey’s lawmakers who are attempting to legalize recreational marijuana. According to the University President Richard J. Helldobler, this institute will help states, and possibly other nations, to develop an informed policy inspired by research rather than public perception.
The professors at the institute bring a diverse academic background, ranging from criminal justice to public health. Their extensive research work includes analyzing the effects of cannabis use. They will serve as advisers to municipal, county and state policy makers on issues related to cannabis.
With the imminent decision to legalize cannabis, there are many questions that arise regarding the socialization of marijuana, public health, driving under the influence, cannabis use in the workplace, financial implications and many more. Professors at WPU believe they can help lawmakers inform cannabis policy and process.
Should cannabis be legalized, WPU’s guidance will make implementation an easier and smoother transition in any jurisdiction seeking their support. In essence, the institute will provide research for lawmakers on cannabis-related bills.
However, Helldobler makes it clear that the institution is not for or against cannabis legalization.
He says the aim of the institute is to answer any questions regarding the use of cannabis, the drug policies, or cannabis effects. He adds that WPU is the place where lawmakers can ask their questions and expect well-researched answers.
Richard J. Helldobler
Rahi Abouk, an associate professor of economics, finance and global business at the university, will serve as director of the institute. Abouk is currently studying the effect on the labour market, following cannabis legalization for recreational use. The group is planning conferences, forums, seminars and public lectures on research and policy analysis.
The Cannabis Institute will provide evidence-based economic and scientific information on cannabis-related topics. It will also guide lawmakers on opioid drugs and other substances.
Other New Jersey colleges have also decided to get involved in marijuana research. Stockton University offers both a course in marijuana law and a minor in cannabis studies. Similarly, Rutgers University offers a course in medical cannabis practice and policy issues.
Final words -- How Australia can gain support from the cannabis institute
Currently, WPU’s Cannabis Institute has been set up to guide lawmakers in New Jersey on designing and developing their cannabis policy. However, over time, the institute may expand its services to help other states in the United State, as well as other nations, with their cannabis legalization policies.
Medical cannabis is already legal in Australia. Current studies and surveys show that Australia may soon start following trends set by other countries that have already legalized recreational use of cannabis or are planning to do so. Thus, by the time Australia legalizes recreational cannabis, the cannabis institute may be more than ready to help define the cannabis policies that are right for the country.