The physician’s code of ethics states, “First, do no harm,” placing patient safety and public health as the central goals. Thus, one must balance the benefits and the harms of a policy such as cannabis legalization and assure that the potential benefit/harm ratio is greater in a regulated, legal cannabis marketplace than in environment where the cultivation, distribution, sale, possession, and use of cannabis is criminalized.
Cannabis prohibition (as with other drug prohibition) was conceptualized, promoted, and instituted as a means to denigrate, disenfranchise, and arrest/incarcerate persons of color - not to protect public health.
The ability to carefully monitor who enters and purchases cannabis in a dispensary allows the state to ensure that adolescents have difficulty accessing it.
Cannabis legalization has not increased cannabis use in adolescents. In fact, many studies have shown a decrease in adolescent use in association with cannabis legalization for medical or adult use.
Decriminalizing cannabis typically means that cannabis possession is no longer considered a crime. There are several problems with this approach.