When California legalised the recreational use of cannabis this month, it also triggered an international debate: is it time to recognise the benefits of a drug once associated with criminal gangs and free-loving hippies? Or is there an urgent need for a crackdown?
Almost two-thirds of Americans are in favour of relaxing marijuana laws, according to an October 2017 Gallop poll, but critics warn the move sends the message that the psychoactive drug is safe to use – a conclusion that many dispute.
With the recreational use of cannabis now permitted in eight US states, and many European countries including Norway moving towards legalising or decriminalising the drug, The Week looks at the associated health risks and medical benefits.
What do supporters say?
Cannabis has long been promoted as an effective treatment for a host of medical conditions, including epilepsy and chronic pain.
The California Medical Association is among the doctors’ groups that have called for the full legalisation of marijuana, arguing that the drug “should be strictly regulated like medicine” to ensure safe and appropriate use