Supporting Future Cannabis Policy – Developing a Standard Joint Unit: A Brief Back-Casting Exercise

Hugo López-Pelayo, Silvia Matrai, Mercè Balcells-Olivero, Eugènia Campeny, Fleur Braddick, Matthijs G. Bossong, Olga S. Cruz, Paolo Deluca, Geert Dom, Daniel Feingold, Tom P. Freeman, Pablo Guzman, Chandni Hindocha, Brian C. Kelly, Nienke Liebregts, Valentina Lorenzetti, Jakob Manthey, João Matias, Clara Oliveras, Maria Teresa PonsJürgen Rehm, Moritz Rosenkranz, Zoe Swithenbank, Luc van Deurse, Julian Vicente, Mike Vuolo, Marcin Wojnar, Antoni Gual

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4 Citations (SciVal)


The standardization of cannabis doses is a priority for research, policy-making, clinical and harm-reduction interventions and consumer security. Scientists have called for standard units of dosing for cannabis, similar to those used for alcohol. A Standard Joint Unit (SJU) would facilitate preventive and intervention models in ways similar to the Standard Drink (SD). Learning from the SD experiences allows researchers to tackle emerging barriers to the SJU by applying modern forecasting methods. During a workshop at the Lisbon Addictions Conference 2019, a back-casting foresight method was used to address challenges and achieve consensus in developing an SJU. Thirty-two professionals from 13 countries and 10 disciplines participated. Descriptive analysis of the workshop was carried out by the organizers and shared with the participants in order to suggest amendments. Several characteristics of the SJU were defined: (1) core values: easy-to use, universal, focused on THC, accurate, and accessible; (2) key challenges: sudden changes in patterns of use, heterogeneity of cannabis compounds as well as in administration routes, variations over time in THC concentrations, and of laws that regulate the legal status of recreational and medical cannabis use); and (3) facilitators: previous experience with standardized measurements, funding opportunities, multi-stakeholder support, high prevalence of cannabis users, and widespread changes in legislation. Participants also identified three initial steps for the implementation of a SJU by 2030: (1) Building a task-force to develop a consensus-based SJU; (2) Expanded available national-level data; (3) Linking SJU consumption to the concept of “risky use,” based on evidence of harms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number675033
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Professor Pat Mungroo, Dr Hannah Walsh and Dr Teodora Groshkova, as well as all other participants for their valuable contributions to the workshop (other participant names are not incorporated due to lack of explicit consent and in order to respect the privacy). Funding. FuturiZe is co-financed by grant N? 806964 under the European Union's DG Justice Programme Drugs Policy Initiatives - Supporting initiatives in the field of drugs policy (JUST-2017-AGDRUGS) from 01/10/2018 to 31/3/2020. HLP received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Instituto de Salud Carlos III through a Juan Rodes contract (JR19/00025, to Dr. Hugo L?pez-Pelayo), FEDER. Paolo Deluca is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration South London (NIHR ARC South London) at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the author[s] and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care, UK. This work is supported by the following institutions: Institut d'Investigacions Biom?diques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona, Hospital Cl?nic i Universitari de Barcelona and CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya.



  • cannabis
  • harm-reduction
  • prevention
  • risky use
  • standard units

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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