July 27, 2018
Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Jennifer M. Whitehill is interviewed about a study she conducted for the state Department of Public Health on statewide marijuana use and possible health consequences in the period of time after recreational use of marijuana was legalized but before it becomes commercially available. The study was mandated by lawmakers in 2017, and will give researchers a baseline from which they can analyze future data.
The study found that 21 percent of adults who took part in the survey reported using cannabis within the past 30 days and for 18-to 25-year-olds that number is 50 percent. The survey also found that more than 34 percent of marijuana-using adults reported that they had driven under the influence of cannabis. That accounts for just over 7 percent of the state’s adult population.
Whitehall is an injury-prevention researcher by trade, focused on substance use as a risk factor for serious injury. She led research in the study on hospital visits and impaired driving, and was heavily involved in studying the patterns of use, general perceptions of marijuana and methods of use.
“This was a study that did have to come together very quickly, relative to the usual pace that a lot of academic research happens,” Whitehill says in the Daily Hampshire Gazette of the 18-month timeframe for the study. “Replicating a study like what we did, maybe even enhancing it when there is revenue coming in from marijuana to hopefully support research, I think that would be really good future steps. And continuing to look back at these data sources.”