An update on cannabis use disorder with comment on the impact of policy related to therapeutic and recreational cannabis use

  • Alan J. BudneyEmail author
  • Michael J. Sofis
  • Jacob T. Borodovsky
Invited Review


Confusion and controversy related to the potential for cannabis use to cause harm, or alternatively to provide benefit, continues globally. This issue has grown in intensity and importance with the increased recognition of the public health implications related to the escalation of the legalization of cannabis and cannabinoid products. This selective overview and commentary attempt to succinctly convey what is known about one potential consequence of cannabis use, the development of cannabis use disorder (CUD). Such knowledge may help guide a reasonable and objective public health perspective on the potential impact of cannabis use and CUD. Current scientific data and clinical observation strongly support the contention that cannabis use, like the use of other substances such as alcohol, opioids, stimulants, and tobacco, can develop into a use disorder (addiction) with important clinical consequences. Epidemiological data indicate that the majority of those who use cannabis do not have problems related to their use, but a substantial subset (10–30%) do report experiencing symptoms and consequences consistent with a CUD. Treatment seeking for CUD comprises a substantial proportion of all substance use treatment admissions, yet treatment response rates show much room for improvement. Changing cannabis policies related to its therapeutic and recreational use are likely to impact the development of CUD and its course; however, definitive data on such effects are not yet available. Clearly, the development of more effective prevention and treatment strategies is needed for those vulnerable to developing a CUD and for those with a CUD.


Cannabis Cannabis use disorder Marijuana Policy Prevalence Treatment Legalization 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Neither author has any conflicts of interest other than research and training support from the NIH-NIDA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Technology and Behavioral Health, Department of PsychiatryGeisel School of Medicine at DartmouthLebanonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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