Marijuana Class: Week 6

An important part of prevention is community action. Usually this takes the form of policy advocacy towards a regulatory environment that limits the abuse potential and risky settings of a substance. Assuming that legalization is the framework for marijuana, what regulatory environment or enforcement activities should be advocated for? To answer this, we will explore the likely models for regulating marijuana in California assuming Proposition 19 passes. Then we will explore the likely risks associated with those models, and try to find appropriate research to suggest improving the controls on the distribution and access to limit public health risks.


Marijuana Class: Week 5

Defining moderate and at risk use. The prevention goals for alcohol are, for most target audiences, not abstinence; moderate use is tolerated, and in fact even encouraged by some. For marijuana, its legal status has meant that encouraging moderate use is usually only done as a step towards reducing use further down to zero. However, in a legalized environment this will change. The question then arises "what is moderate use of marijuana?" What level of use is scientifically set as the cutoff between acceptably low risk versus indicative of negative consequences.

We will look though the research to find instances of such use-risk indicators to try to answer the question of distinguishing between low risk and high risk use of marijuana.


Marijuana Class: Week 4

Impaired driving will likely never be tolerated within the law. Even Proposition 19 explicitly states that driving while impaired will remain illegal. However there is no definition given for "impaired." Indeed, there are numerous questions regarding the enforcement of impaired driving laws with respect to marijuana in a legalized environment. Given that most of the testing does not measure active THC in the blood, and given that the specific impairments marijuana causes have not necessarily been documented on a dose-dependent scale, the job of investigating and prosecuting marijuana impaired drivers may be far more difficult.

We will explore the research on marijuana impaired driving and determine what prevention strategies would be most effective for limiting the impact of legalization on road safety. This may include determining the most reasonable advice to provide users with respect to separating their use from the driving, but it may also extend to recommendations for enforcement strategies that may be more effective in a legalized environment.


Marijuana Class: Week 3

Dependence on marijuana is one of the most common reasons for a person to enter into addiction treatment. However, many of those entering such treatment are doing so under court order. Thus the rate of those referred would appear to depend at least in part on the illegality of marijuana. In a legalized environment, it is likely that many will not be referred for treatment. What is the prognosis for those not entering treatment?

Further, given the likelihood that use of marijuana will expand to more people under legalization, what are the implications for the rates of dependence development?


Marijuana Class: Week 2

There have been conflicting studies on the physiological impact of smoking marijuana. We will review the state of the art on the health risks marijuana poses, and determine if there are ways a user can minimize their exposure to these risks while still allowing for some level of use. Just as some types of alcohol consumption is more risky than others, it may be that prevention programs take on the role of trying to divert users away from some type of use towards others. Consumption routes, interactions with other substances and types of marijuana may be variables that become important to consider. Exploring the extent literature will hopefully help to guide such an approach.


Marijuana Class: Week 1

What are the expected Public Health consequences of marijuana legalization? While there has not been much research on marijuana, we will attempt to extrapolate consequences using research on alcohol liberalization, acknowledging that this is an imperfect model for changes that may occur.


Marijuana Class: Orientation

This is the orientation session for the 6-week course on marijuana prevention in a legalized environment offered by Dr. Jim Lange. This free course is being offered in response to the spreading liberalization of marijuana laws in order to assure that health educators and prevention specialists are aware of the significant changes in approaches called for by the new environment.