Unexpected consequences of cannabis legalization on youth

Caislin Firth | 2019

Advisor: Anjum Hajat

Research Area(s): Global Health, Maternal & Child Health, Public Health Practice, Social Determinants of Health


In 2014, Oregon became the 3rd state to legalize the local production, processing and sale of cannabis to persons 21 and older for non-medical use. The nature and direction of the impacts of this initiative on neighborhoods, underage commercial product use and juvenile justice are unknown. As more states turn to decriminalizing cannabis and opening commercial cannabis markets, it is imperative to understand the unexpected consequences of legalization on public health to inform prevention campaigns and equitable cannabis policies. Legalization of cannabis has exposed vulnerable communities, including youth, to cannabis retailers and advertisement, and has increased exposure to high potency cannabis products. There is growing concern that exposure to retailers and advertisements could have detrimental effects at both the individual and neighborhood level. This proposal will address the unexpected consequences of legalizing cannabis that impact public health and safety of youth. The primary aims of this proposal are to 1) Test the association between neighborhood deprivation and commercial cannabis retailer density in Portland, Oregon; 2) Determine if legalization of cannabis for adults has impacted cannabis allegations for youth in Oregon; and 3) Determine if underage use of high potency cannabis products is associated with proximity to commercial cannabis retailers in Oregon.