Background: Many states are currently considering legislature that would legalize and commercialize cannabis
for medical and recreational purposes. Physicians and other health professionals are frequently called upon to offer an expert
opinion on the public health implications of these bills. For many, the role as a scientific expert and advocate in a political
process is new.
Objective 1: To outline themes and lessons learned for science-minded clinicians engaged in deliberations over cannabis
Objective 2: To describe how science can get used and misused in the political process.
Method: This article describes the experience of a psychiatrist who was actively involved in one state’s deliberations through
cannabis legalization bills.
Results: Major themes that emerged during the process are described as are recommendations
for other health professionals who may find themselves involved in similar processes related to cannabis legalization and
other controversial initiatives that rely on the interpretation of scientific information.
Conclusion: Psychiatrists and other clinicians can make important contributions to the political process for legislative
debates that involve science-based mental health information.