Marijuana Research at the University of Washington
Researchers from a number of organizations at the University of Washington are studying a variety of aspects of marijuana, including prevention and treatment of abuse, its effect on the brain, and the epidemiology of marijuana use and problems. Washington's Initiative 502 includes several provisions that impact research at UW:
- DSHS will consult with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) and the Social Development Research Group (SDRG) to identify recommended programs and practices aimed at the prevention or reduction of substance abuse among middle and high school students;
- Allocation of 0.6% of excise taxes for research on the short and long-term effects of marijuana;
- $20,000 is directed to ADAI for the creation, maintenance, and dissemination of web-based public education materials.
NEW! On May 20, 2016, researchers from RAND Corporation and the University of Washington, as well as representatives from the ACLU, WA State Liquor & Cannbis Board, WA State Dept. of Health, The Suquamish Tribe, and the WA Traffic Safety Commission, came together for the one-day Symposium on Legal Marijuana in Washington: Shaping a Research Agenda. More than 150 people from the UW, state and local agencies, and community organizations attended the event, which was hosted by the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. Watch the sympsosium videos here. (See also videos from our 2013 Symposium.)
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute
Director: Dennis Donovan, PhD
ADAI's mission is to advance public health policy and practice in order to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities affected by alcohol and drug abuse. ADAI will consult with the state DSHS to identify and recommend programs and practices for treating marijuana dependence. Other marijuana-related activities at ADAI include:
Epidemiology research: Reporting on the prevalence, treatment admissions, and arrests for marijuana sales and possession in Washington. See also: Marijuana Use Surveys: Different Methodologies May Produce Different Estimates(March 2016). This document explains why surveys that ask "How many people use marijuana?" may not come to the same result, and should be read with an understanding of the complexity in asking what might seem like a simple question.
Chronic Pain Management and Medicinal Cannabis. Dr. Bia Carlini headed this project to develop an online training for health providers. The project was funded by the WA State Office of the Attorney General.
Impacts of Cannabis & Cannabis Legalization on Impaired Driving. Dr. Caleb Banta-Green heads this study funded by the AAA Foundation to look at the potential impact of legislation on marijuana-impaired driving and crash risk. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Center.
ADAI Small Grants program:
Using funds from I-502 revenue for research at the UW, ADAI issued an RFA for marijuana pilot projects on the short and long-term effects of marijuana use and related consequences, and the impact of legal marijuana in community norms and individual and group behaviors. Projects funded for FY2016 and FY2017.
ADAI Pilot Research Projects:
Using funds from I-502 revenue for research at the UW, ADAI funded 6 small research projects for the FY2016 period. ADAI projects for FY2016
Dissemination of information about marijuana via symposia, ADAI Library, ADAI Clearinghouse, and website LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org (see below).
ADAI Library & Clearinghouse
LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org offers science-based but easy-to-understand information for the public, addressing questions or concerns about marijuana, with special topic pages specifically developed for parents and adolescents, and where to get help.
The Library created an Information Brief on Marijuana, and fields numerous requests from the media and others seeking UW experts about marijuana.
The ADAI Clearinghouse has distributed over 12,000 pieces of printed material about marijuana in 2012 alone, and exhibits materials at community events to help further disseminate prevention and treatment information.
Center for the Study of Health Risk Behaviors
Director: Mary Larimer, PhD
At CSHRB, Dr. Christine Lee is conducting theIndividualized Choices for Health, Alcohol, and Marijuana Project (iCHAMP). This study is evaluating an indicated prevention intervention among college students at risk for experiencing marijuana-related negative consequences.
Dr. Jason Kilmer and colleagues at CSHRB collaborated with Washington's Div. of Behavioral Health & Recovery/DSHS to implement the Young Adult Health Survey, which surveyed young adults between ages 18-25 in Washington, to explore their health behaviors including marijuana use. View Survey Results.
CSHRB previously conducted a study on "Personalized Feedback Intervention for Marijuana" that evaluated the efficacy of a personalized feedback intervention for marijuana use.
Social Development Research Group
Director: Kevin Haggerty, MSW, PhD
SDRG in the School of Social Work is engaged in research about family, school, and community prevention, and along with ADAI, will consult with the state DSHS to identify and recommend programs and practices aimed at the prevention or reduction of substance abuse among middle and high school students.
Effects of Marijuana Legalization in Washington State on Norms, Use and Parenting. Dr. Rick Kosterman heads this NIDA-funded study to examine the moderating role of environmental factors and adult functioning, and assesses marijuana-specific parenting behaviors in order to inform prevention efforts. The study augments data from a Seattle-based longitudinal cohort with new marijuana-focused measures at age 39.
Stepping Up to High School - Trajectories of Marijuana Use. Dr. Alex Mason received NIDA supplemental funds to analyze trajectories of marijuana use over time and to conduct focus groups about issues related to parenting, prevention, and the new marijuana law, with the goal of developing and testing parenting messages for the prevention of marijuana use.
Marijuana Legislation and Changes in Youth Marijuana Use and Related Risk Factors. The goal of this project, headed by Dr. Katarina Guttmannova, is to understand the impact of marijuana-related legislation on adolescent marijuana and other substance use and related risk factors using time-series analysis of survey data from Colorado, Washington, and Oregon and two additional comparison states.
Using Facebook to Recruit Parents to a Parenting Program to Prevent Teen Drug Use. In this study, Dr. Sabrina Oesterle and colleagues will explore the feasibility, utility, and acceptibility of using Facebook to recruit parents to complete a self-directed program to prevent teen alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use.
Innovative Programs Research Group
Director: Denise Walker, PhD
The School of Social Work has been conducting research on marijuana for more than twenty-five years, beginning under former IPRG director Roger Roffman. Current marijuana research at IPRG:
Teen Marijuana Check-Up 4: Denise Walker continues 3 previous NIDA-funded projects developing and evaluating the Teen Marijuana Check-Up, a brief intervention intended to attract voluntary participation from adolescents who smoke marijuana. The current project aims to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention to determine its impact on teen use and readiness to change.
Marijuana Dependence Treatment PRN: Dr. Walker's second study is a two-year project that will preliminarily evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention focusing on adult marijuana dependence.
Development and Efficacy Test of Computerized Treatment for Marijuana Abuse: Principal Investigator Alan Budney, with Co-PI Denise Walker, is comparing therapist-delivered MET/CBT/CM vs. computer-delivered MET/CBT/CM to contribute to an overarching goal of developing and disseminating cost-effective treatments for cannabis disorders.
Center of Drug Addiction Research (Pharmacology)
Director: Charles Chavkin, PhD
Professor Nephi Stella, PhD, in the UW Pharmacology department focuses on how medicinal properties of marijuana can be improved to treat diverse neuropathologies.