Science and policy are often in tension with one another. Such is the case with the evolution of marijuana policy over the past several years as implemented by the states. There are those who believe marijuana should stay as it is—a controlled substance strictly regulated by the federal government, which views marijuana as highly addictive and without medical value. There is a subset of Americans who believe it should be readily accessible for medicinal uses, regulated in ways similar to other accepted pharmaceuticals. And there are those who believe that the legalization of “recreational” marijuana is the direction in which the U.S. should move. A scientist who leads the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a physician, and a policy maker from a jurisdiction where recreational marijuana has been legalized addressed what science reveals about the addictiveness of marijuana and its effects on the human brain and behavior, the status and evidence of its medicinal value, and what the implications are for policies that legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational uses.
J. Michael Bostwick, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota
Councilmember At-Large, Council of the District of Columbia
Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health