UCLA Researchers Study Societal Impacts of Marijuana


The sale of recreational marijuana to adults became legal in California on January 1, 2018. Since then there has been an explosion of new cannabis (marijuana)-based products on the market. Along with them came unchecked health claims and persuasive advertisements.

Lack of information exists about the implications of marijuana

The U.S. federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means it has the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Schedule 1 classification places restrictions on cannabis research activities and blocks funding for therapeutic cannabis research. The result is a lack of scientific knowledge about cannabis.

Despite the knowledge gap, both market forces and public policy decisions have moved beyond the current level of scientific understanding. Policymakers have enacted cannabis laws in the absence of data.

Cannabis Research Initiative is dedicated to the broad study of cannabis

With a population of 10 million, Los Angeles County has become the hub of the American cannabis industry. Given the increased accessibility of cannabis, there is an opportunity and a need to understand the public health implications of marijuana-related products.

Established in 2017, the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative (CRI) is one of the first academic programs in the world dedicated to the study of marijuana. CRI is a comprehensive research program dedicated to understanding the health, legal, economic and social impacts of cannabis by:

  • Conducting rigorous, impactful research into cannabis and cannabinoids (chemical constituents unique to the cannabis plant)
  • Researching the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids
  • Identifying the health consequences of non-medical cannabis use

Marijuana researchers from CRI collaborate to answer important questions

Within CRI, researchers study the implications of cannabis-based products by bringing together a diverse group of scholars from various fields across the campus, including:

  • Law
  • Public policy
  • Public health
  • Different areas of science and medicine

The faculty work together to focus on the most critical questions that need to be answered, using rigorous study designs and innovative approaches. This type of collaboration means novel and impactful research is being conducted in those areas that most need attention. CRI’s research projects will yield data that will be instrumental in educating our communities, students and medical professionals.

The UCLA CRI is supported by the UCLA Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the UCLA Brain Research Institute. Learn how you can help.