The effect of recreational cannabis legalization and commercialization on substance use, mental health, and injury: A systematic review

To determine the effect of recreational cannabis legalization (RCL) and/or recreational cannabis commercialization (RCC) on emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to substance use, injury, and mental health among those aged 11 years and older. A systematic review of six electronic databases up to February 1, 2023. Original, peer-reviewed articles with interrupted time series or before and after designs were included. Four independent reviewers screened articles and assessed risk of bias. Outcomes with ‘critical’ risk of bias were excluded. Protocol registered on PROSPERO (# CRD42021265183). After screening and risk of bias assessment, 29 studies were included which examined ED visits or hospitalizations for cannabis use or alcohol (N = 10), opioid mortality (N = 3), motor vehicle fatalities or injury (N = 11), and intentional injury/mental health (N = 5). Rates or number of cannabis-related hospitalizations increased after RCL in Canada and the USA. Immediate increases in rates of cannabis-related ED visits were found after both RCL and RCC in Canada. Rates of traffic fatalities increased after RCL and RCC in certain jurisdictions in the USA.RCL was associated with increased rates of cannabis-related hospitalizations. RCL and/or RCC was associated with increased rates of cannabis-related ED visits, consistently shown across sex and age groups. The effect on fatal motor vehicle incidents was mixed, with observed increases found after RCL and/or RCC. The effect of RCL or RCC on opioids, alcohol, intentional injury, and mental health is not clear. These results inform population health initiatives and international jurisdictions considering RCL implementation.


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  • Accession Number: 01890891
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 24 2023 9:30AM