This presentation will describe the recent proposals to legalise recreational cannabis use in the USA. It places them within a historical context of trends in cannabis use among young people in developed countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States over the past 50 years. It outlines the policy experiments that have increasingly challenged the international prohibitions on recreational cannabis, namely, the de facto legalisation of retail cannabis sales in the Netherlands and the passage of referenda establishing “medical marijuana” schemes in some US states in the 1990s and 2000s. It focuses on the implications of the passage of referenda legalising recreational cannabis use in Colorado and Washington State in 2012. The talk will address the following questions: what might we expect to happen to rates of cannabis use and problems related to cannabis use after legalisation? What constitutional and other complications do the state laws raise for the US Federal government? What implications do these policy experiments have for the future of the international drug control treaties? How may the outcomes of these experiments affect cannabis policies in other developed countries?


Professor Wayne Hall
Director, Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research

Hall is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland and a Professor of Addiction Policy at the National Addiction Centre, Kings College London. He also has Visiting Professorial appointments at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW. He was formerly: an NHMRC Australia Fellow in addiction neuroethics at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research and the University of Queensland Brain Institute (2009-2014); Professor of Public Health Policy in the School of Population Health (2005-2009); Director of the Office of Public Policy and Ethics at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (2001-2005) at the University of Queensland; and Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW (1994-2001). He has advised the World Health Organization on: the health effects of cannabis use; the effectiveness of drug substitution treatment; the scientific quality of the Swiss heroin trials; the contribution of illicit drug use to the global burden of disease; and the ethical implications of genetic and neuroscience research on addiction.

About Global Leadership Series

The Global Leadership Series (GLS) is a lively program of events for alumni and community members. Join us for lectures and discussions with the best of the best UQ-related speakers on matters that impact your community and shape your ideas of the world.

The series is an opportunity for you to engage with great minds on global matters, participate in thought-provoking discussions and network with UQ alumni and community members. All alumni, parents, community members and friends are welcome to attend the Global Leadership Series events.

Listen to podcasts of previous GLS events click here


Customs House, 399 Queen St, Brisbane