Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Welcome to "Marijuana and Health in the Spotlight"

Welcome to the Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) e-newsletter providing health information and resources for Jefferson County service providers and others concerned about the use and commercialization of marijuana.  JCPH welcomes any feedback about "Marijuana and Health in the Spotlight" so that we can best assess its usefulness and develop a schedule for publication.

This newsletter is in response to an identified information and resource gap regarding marijuana in Jefferson County. In 2015, JCPH convened two meetings  that engaged over  80 service providers, including law enforcement, educators, behavioral health, health care and prevention advocates, in discussions about marijuana
and the changing landscape  its commercialization has created.   The meetings, held in May and July 2015, also provided an opportunity to prioritize potential resources needed to effectively respond to these changes. 

In considering what resources may be needed, participants pointed to a lack of local data on youth marijuana use trends as well as a lack of related indicators such as perceptions of harm. This data gap leaves communities to rely on secondary data, data from neighboring counties and input from those “working in the trenches” to anticipate possible prevention and intervention needs.  

The following resource lists were identified as needed and are now being provided via links to JCPH website and creation of this e-newsletter:

  • List to help service providers find reliable data. 
    Marijuana and Health Data Resources
  • List of prevention and education resources
    Marijuana and Health Prevention and Education Resources
  • List of prevention, screening/treatment resources.
  • Piloting an electronic newsletter for service providers that includes current “hot topic” issues about marijuana.  “Marijuana and Health in the Spotlight” has been created and can be found electronically on the JCPH Marijuana and Public Health web page.
  • Plan to reconvene service provider/prevention advocates group.  
    A group meeting has been scheduled for: 
    Thursday, February 23, 201 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 pmJefferson County Administration and Courts100 Jefferson County Parkway Lookout Mountain RoomGolden, COThe meeting will provide a forum for continued discussion about marijuana and related issues by service providers and prevention advocates in Jefferson County.

 Issues and areas of concern discussed during 2015 service provider/prevention advocate meetings:

·         Adolescent attitudes about marijuana use and its harms are changing – in the direction that indicates we could be facing serious problems.

·        Commercialization of marijuana (medical and recreational retail) appears to be contributing to the misperception by youth that marijuana is a benign drug. This misperception can lead to initiation of use by adolescents.

·         Well-designed, longitudinal studies now show that early, regular use of marijuana may produce serious, irreversible changes in cognitive functioning which contribute to lower achievement, in school and life. 
       View the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director’s comments on marijuana’s lasting effects on the brain. (Study) Participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38—an average of 8 points or those who met criteria for cannabis dependence. (For context, a loss of 8 IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range.) Those who started using marijuana regularly or heavily after age 18 showed minor declines. By comparison, those who never used marijuana showed no declines in IQ.

If you have questions about or want to comment on this first edition of the Marijuana in the Spotlight e-newsletter or the resource lists provided, please email Donna Viverette at or call 303-275-7555.