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Research Project

Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act Evaluation (CRTA) Study

Principal Investigator
Swartz, James A
Research Area(s)
Research & Sponsored Projects
Beeler, Sara
McLeod, Branden A.
Funding Source
Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery and Division of Mental Health Services


The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Public Act 101-0027), supports the use of funds allocated to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS)/Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) and the Division of Mental Health Services (DMH) to conduct data analysis on the health impacts of legalizing cannabis Adult use, monitoring possible changes in key indicators over time. IDHS contracted with the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) (Dr. Swartz, Principal Investigator) through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to obtain and analyze data for monitoring the potential public health effects of legalizing recreational cannabis. IDHS is required to obtain, analyze, and report to the Adult Cannabis Advisory Committee the social and public health consequences of legalizing recreational cannabis by comparing prevalences and trends pre- and post-CRTA enactment based on a diverse indicator set. As a starting point, the CRTA enumerated a minimum set of public health indicators that reasonably could be affected by wider and/or more frequent use of cannabis by Illinois residents and which therefore should be assessed and presented annually to the Advisory Committee for review.

Our primary research question is: Has the legalization of recreational cannabis affected the prevalence and incidence of cannabis use and health-related consequences such as the development of cannabis use disorder (CUD)? Within that overall question, we examine if recreational cannabis use has had differential effects by age group; has had different effects geographically within Illinois; and has affected different types of users (e.g., previously frequent users increased frequency of use but there no increased use will be found among less-frequent recreational users; use among persons with a serious mental illness (SMI) will show increased use); affected other types of drug use, particularly use of opioids as cannabis may be substituted for opioids as an analgesic; and to examine other possible effects and consequences, such as increases in treatment for CUD, and earlier age of first use of cannabis.

As a related but separate arm of the project, we have also been charged with evaluating programs funded by cannabis tax revenue that IDHS has initiated or expanded. These programs are intended to address the broader socioeconomic impacts and inequities (e.g., homelessness, trauma, unemployment) caused by the decades-long War on Drugs. UIC has assembled a team of co-investigators to evaluate and report on each program as it is developed and implemented.

More information on project goals, research and evaluation activities, reports, and summaries of current cannabis-related national and international research are available on the project's web site: Illinois Cannabis Project.